Friday, January 1, 2016

A new year.

Looking back at 2015 I did okay on meeting the goals I had set.  Never mind that they were the same goals as the year before…and probably the year before that so I after three years I ought to have finally accomplished something.

To recap from 2015. 

I had set a goal of 1,500 miles again.  In 2014 I did 1,800 and last year I was well over 2,100.   Most of that was walking the dogs, of course, but I did swap out swimming for running most of the year and that helped the mileage total climb.  I really didn’t swim very much last year at all for a variety of reasons.  I chalk it up primarily to burn out from swimming in general.  Thanks to LJ leaving the way she did and the ensuing chaos and the (mostly self-imposed) stress of trying to hold the program together without a head coach or any support from the Y,  I lost my motivation to make the time to get to the pool.  It was just easier to put on my sneaks and go for a run. 

The biggest change this year is, of course, giving up swimming.    When the only thing I felt about the coming fall season was dread and anxiety, I knew I was burned out and it was time to back off.    Hell, I couldn’t even make myself get IN the pool.  Thanks to LJ leaving the way she did and the ensuing chaos and the (mostly self-imposed) stress of trying to hold the program together without a head coach or any support from the Y,  I lost my motivation to make the time to get IN the pool.  It was just easier to put on my sneaks and go for a run. For coaching, originally I planned to do just one or two days a week.  But after a couple of days of sitting with that decision, THAT didn’t feel right either.  So I stepped father away and agreed to just sub as needed.   When I wasn’t contacted at all during the fall to sub at all, the decision to just make a clean break when my “work a shift or get terminated as an employee” notice came was an easy one.

K decided to make a clean break from swimming too and that has been a good decision for her and for the family too.  Not having to spend 15 hours a week at the Y, plus driving there 5 or 6 days a week, has given her plenty of time to try other things – guitar, fused glass, year book, movie club.  We took a self-defense class together at BZ which was fun too.   Not having swim on my plate - Every. Single. Day. – has let me do things like sleep later than 3am.  I tell people that I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until I wasn’t as exhausted anymore.   It’s helped with my health overall – I don’t fell as awful all the time as I did while I was coaching every day.

I miss the kids and I miss some of the parents who I liked talking to.   Every once in a while I check out how the kids are doing on meet mobile and I see some of them at high school meets when I am working them.  I miss the illusion that I was making a difference in kids’ lives.  I’m still a bit out of sorts trying to find something that has meaning to take its place.  I’m hoping inspiration will hit in 2016.

The other big change for me in 2015 was switching neurologists and heading to Jefferson Headache Center.  My initial appointment included an hour with a pshrink to talk about all the ways the headaches impact my life and to make sure that I’m not crazy or drug seeking or so depressed that I need to be hospitalized or something.  I loved the pshrink.  He was the very first person who actually understood how awful it has been to have headaches 3, 4, 5 + days a week for all these years.  I honestly teared up when he told me that even on the days that I didn’t consider the headache to be an actual migraine that ANY symptoms were part of the migraine process and that living like this is completely unacceptable when there are things we can try.  After I saw him and completed my psych testing, I saw the neuro.   He ran through a ton of options and recommended either Botox or a clinical trial.   He thought the Botox could be helpful for me.   So I signed up for that and scheduled my first appointment at the end of June.

I’ve had three doses (?) of Botox so far.  They’ve tweaked the placement of shots each time to try and give me a better result.  The first time I got 35 shots.  The 2nd time I got 46 (!) and this time (right before Christmas) I got 38 shots.  It’s the same amount of stuff, just distributed a little differently on my scalp plus the standard forehead, temples, occipital region, and traps.  I’m used to not being able to move my forehead – there’s just enough muscle control that I can raise one eyebrow and look slightly insane.  I also wake up each morning looking like my face was folded in half between my eyes.  I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  In terms of headache relief, I’m still undecided if it is working as intended.  I had two really bad weeks from Sept – Dec but the rest of the time I had long stretches (two weeks at one point) without headaches and the headaches I did have seemed less painful and way less frequent.  But with the less pain has come more nausea and more vision disturbances.  So now I have three different anti-nausea drugs to take (no sedation, some sedation, and total sedation) plus my twice a week allowance of imitrex when I need it.  I figure if I go a couple of weeks without taking it, I can spare myself an extra dose or two during those bad weeks (like this one has been). 

So…to make a long story short, the jury is still out on whether it is working or not.  It seems to be but it could be coincidence.   I’ll see how I do going into the spring and summer and then decide whether to continue.

So that’s 2015, but what about 2016?  I need some new goals for this year.  I have tons of vague thoughts floating around, but very little in the way of concrete plans, which is why I am actually sitting down and writing for the first time in 6 months.

1.  Become an NCAA official.    This one is actually done already.  A couple of weeks ago, a long time PIAA official (the last active official from when I was a kid and my parents were officials) who I like a lot encouraged me to do it.  I looked into it, paid my $29 membership dues to the Collegiate Swim Officials Association, and studied for the test.  Since I am a current PIAA official, I only have to take the shorter renewal test rather than the 100 question “become and official” test.  Since pretty much all the rules are the same (a few little differences), easy peasey.  I am not a CSOA certified official.  Of course the season is almost over now so all I will do this year is buy my shirt and shadow a meet, but I’ll be ready for go for the 2016-2017 season.

2.  Target 1,800 miles for the year.   I’m not going to set limits on how I will get there b/c I don’t want to feel like I HAVE to run or a I HAVE to swim on a given day when I don’t have time or motivation.

3.  Be able to do 5 real pull ups.  I had a pull up goal for when I turned 40 but I have gotten out of the habit of training for them and I’m not sure I could even manage 1 anymore. 

4.  Read my bible (app) every day.  I was AWFUL at reading scripture last year and I can really feel the hit my faith took.  This year I want to commit to reading something every day.  I subscribe to 3 different daily devotions, plus I have a daily bread in my purse and my sister gave me a cool new devotional book for Christmas.   All of them have scripture references associated with them.  I also have two daily reading plans on my phone.  From all those sources, I think I can manage to read a chapter or two every day. 

5.  Pray regularly.  As my faith has gotten stale, my prayer life has suffered (chicken/egg?).  Prayer doesn’t have to be long and involved to be effective.

6.  Take a class at the gym each month.  Once a month?  I think I can manage that.  And maybe I’ll even like it.

7.  Continue to write in my gratitude journal.   Instead of carrying it in my purse, I think I’ll put it by my bed so I can do it before I go to sleep.

8.  Get out of my rut at work.  I’m not actually sure how to approach this one.  I am ashamed to admit that my confidence has not recovered from the crap last spring.  The combo of simultaneous bullsh*t at work and bullsh*t at the Y really did a number of me.  The things that were said and done continue to bother me WAY more than they should and I find myself second guessing myself, questioning everything I do, and interpreting things that wouldn’t have bothered me in the past through a very discouraged and, I acknowledge, distorted lens.   I feel totally uncomfortable at work and I am too often certain that everyone holds the same opinion as the bat, sh*t crazy person(s) who started all this nonsense.   I have taken some steps lately to try and get out of my rut, but I’m not entirely certain that they are good decisions and that I’m just not doing things out of desperation.  Right now I have something in the works to join a team at HQ.  It would be an official but collateral duty that would be limited to 20% of my time for about 3-4 months.  I worry that 1) I won’t be good at it; 2) won’t be allowed to cut back my real job to accommodate the additional 20% and that I’ll actually be doing 120%; or 3) I’ll hate it.  The good thing is that I like the people on the team very much and have worked with them in the past on other things.  And if I hate it, it’s only for a couple of months.  At least it will give me something to focus on during the dark, cold winter months.  I’m hopeful that doing some of the other things in regularly in my life will make me feel better about work and life in general.

9.  Get outside every day.  Speaking of dark, cold winter months – I am committed to getting out into the sunshine for 15-30 minutes every day.  It will be easy when I am at home – the dogs will enjoy a lunch time walk.  When I am in the office though, it will be challenge since I don’t usually (ever) take a lunch break. 

10.  Take my vitamins.  I am getting better at this one.  It’s a habit I need to get into just like flossing or putting anti-aging serum on my face before bed.  Right now I am taking a calcium/magnesium combo and a b-vitamin combo, both of which are supposed to help with migraines (and PMS).  I just started taking fish oil too (huge pills.  So gross).  I also intermittently take two supplements which are supposed to help with anxiety and sleep, especially when it is so dark and cold out.  Those are the ones I have to get into the habit of taking every day.

11.  Write.  Dare I commit to actually blogging more than once a year?  Right now I don’t have anything that is actually worth writing and certainly not worth reading.  Maybe finding some purpose elsewhere and getting some confidence back will give me more motivation to write.   I have an acquaintance who is a freelance writer and sometimes I think I’d like to try that.  First I have to get back to blogging and then maybe I’ll try writing ABOUT something.


How about you, dear readers*?  Any goals for the year?


* and of course by this I mean, mom, my sister and my friend A who are the only ones who ever read the blog to begin with! 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Some things I (we all) need to learn in the coming year.

From the HuffPo, I think...

1. It's OK to say no as long as you learn the art of doing so graciously.
2. Don't waste time worrying and moaning about stuff you have no control over. Let it go.
3. Everything you see depends on how you look at it.
4. Stop comparing your insides to everyone else's outsides.
5. Listening to someone -- really listening -- is one of the most important, respectful and rewarding things you can do.
6. It's awesome to collect people throughout life, but you're truly blessed if you have a handful of besties who will always, always have your back. Even if you don't speak to them all that often, you know they're there.
7. The morning after is rarely -- if ever -- worth the night before.
8. No one gives a crap if you go to the supermarket in sweats without makeup and your unwashed hair in a ponytail on top of your head.
9. Experiences are infinitely more memorable than stuff.
10. Confidence is beautiful and powerful.
11. Laugh lines are worth it.
12. It will always boggle your mind how some people will exceed the lowest imaginable depth of stupidity, incompetence and nastiness, while others will exceed the highest imaginable pinnacle of kindness, compassion and helpfulness.
13. Don't live your life by anyone else's expectations, taste, hopes or dreams.
14. If you rely on others for joy, you will never be joyful yourself.
15. Grudges aren't worth it.
16. You'll never regret going out of your way to brighten someone's day.
17. "Please" and "thank you" are always appreciated and appropriate.
18. Tell the little self-sabotaging voice in your head to bug off.
19. The food doesn't matter. The table settings don't matter. All that matters is the company.
20. Being super-busy is not a badge of honor, importance, popularity or success. It's perfectly OK -- and actually healthier and preferable -- to be not so busy.
21. Despite your delusions, you have absolutely no idea what's happening behind other people's doors.
22. Most bad behavior and bitterness is rooted in jealousy.
23. What makes you happy isn't the elixir that will make someone else happy.
24. It's not always someone else's fault. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror.
25. You can disagree with someone's opinions and beliefs, but it doesn't make them wrong. And it's probably best just not to go there when it has to do with religion, politics or love.
26. Friendships change over time. Sometimes they have an expiration date and they dissolve into fuzziness. And that's OK.
27. Eye cream is your friend.
28. Stop waxing poetic about how good it used to be. Stop fantasizing about how good it might be in the future. Savor how good it is right now. Make your moments matter.
29. It's nice to be thought of and remembered.
30. Sometimes you've gotta do stuff just because it's the right thing to do. Often it's uncomfortable. Usually it's inconvenient. But it's almost always worth it.
31. Elephants don't belong in the room. Having the tough conversation is ultimately better than living with the energy-sapping misery of resentment or misunderstanding.
32. Some stuff just isn't meant to be. The sooner you accept it and stop trying to force it to happen, the better off you'll be.
33. The solution to someone else's problem that seems so obvious to you is likely something they've already tried and it hasn't worked.
34. A good night's sleep is a gift from the heavens and can change everything.
35. People will make time for you if you're important to them. And they pretty much won't if you're not.
36. Sometimes you need to suck it up hard in the name of love, peace and harmony.
37. Don't let angry people get to you; instead, try to muster some compassion for them.
38. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Stop wasting energy on stuff that isn't your business. You just do you.
39. Accept, embrace and celebrate change.
40. Being polite and smiling genuinely can make a big difference.
41. Stillness is restorative and healing.
42. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Break down challenges into small, do-able chunks. It will all get done.
43. Life is what happens while you're waiting expectantly for the next big thing on the horizon to come to fruition. Savor the everyday.
44. If you push yourself and focus on what's good rather than wallowing selfishly in the negative, things will almost always improve.
45. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it isn't immediately apparent, but in time, and with reflection, the reason usually becomes clear. And often it's so extraordinary and breathtaking, it'll blow you away.
46. No matter how much you wish, you can't will things to happen. But often, there's a better and "righter" path that reveals itself if you keep your eyes and mind open.

47. Take a risk and have the guts to seize the opportunity, because it may not present itself again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nothing Changes, Nothing Ever Will

I just realized that it has been more than 2 months since I wrote anything.  No letters to our (my) military pen pal, no blog posts, barely any entries in my gratitude journal, etc.  It's not that I have nothing to write about.  I do. And I almost daily think of something I want to get down on "paper" before it flies out of my mind.  But I don't because I just don't care enough to bother.  It's fairly normal that no one else cares about the boring drivel my mind produces, but for me to not care about it either.  Yuck.  I bore myself.

Nothing has changed for me at work.  The person making my life miserable at work is still there, only now s/he has decided that everything should return to normal - as if the things s/he said were never actually said.  As if we are buddies again.  Only we're not.  And they WERE said.  And they can't be taken back.  S/he never apologized.  S/he never acknowledged what a negative impact s/he had on me.  S/he just woke up one morning and decided that things should revert to how they used to be b/c s/he is bat-sh*t crazy and perhaps a little concerned at the number of people who are leaving our Branch for loftier goals.   As you might have guessed, absent a sincere apology, I'm not quite willing to do that.  And even with a sincere apology, I'm not sure that bridge can be mended.  The truth came out back in May and now that I know what she really thinks of me, both personally and professionally....nope an apology isn't going to help.

So I continue to be miserable.  I continue to be unmotivated and distracted and comparatively unproductive.  On the outside I remain as (un) pleasant and helpful as I ever was.  I feign interest and enthusiasm as needed.  I put in enough effort to produce good quality work when it is due.  But I am disengaged and on a daily basis dread working - even working from home.

I'm trying not to sit still while I stew.  I've volunteered to be administrative support for a workplace development committee that meets monthly.  I've signed up for a resume writing class and an e-mail writing class, to polish my skills.  I've talked to people in lofty places about possible temporary assignments.

But...I still feel stuck and purposeless and passionless.  And, I am loathe to admit, a little envious of the people around me who are really good at politicking and self promotion and who are able to elevate themselves without trying all that hard.

Perhaps I'll e-mail that Chinese petrochemical company that is spamming me looking for me to be their "Canadian agent."  That sounds like fun, right?

In other news, I am now 2.5 weeks post Botox.  I'm cautiously optimistic about whether it will work. It had some promising effect early on, but being in a hot, humid, swim meet environment all weekend plus the hot, humid weather has derailed that somewhat.  Query - how bad would it be WITHOUT the Botox?  I'm not sure I love the cosmetic effects at all.  My eyebrows are very heavy and my eyes look smaller than ever.  I think it is making me look OLDER rather than younger b/c I look so dang tired all the time and can't fake wider eyes.  I can only move the very right side of my right eyebrow/forehead - just enough to give me a Spock eyebrow.  I can't roll my eyes anymore either.  Well, I can, but when nothing but my eyeballs move, it's not as effective.

The process of getting the shots was...slightly horrifying, but not overly painful.  It was like being stung by several dozen bees.  Some of the shots hurt more than others and the ones into my scalp made a gross crunching sound which made me cringe.  When he was done with the normal shots into my forehead, above my ears, on the back of my scalp, my neck, and my shoulders, he gave me a whole bunch into my scalp where my headaches seem to be centered - sometimes my scalp in that area can be so sensitive that my hair hurts.  All in all it was probably 35 shots?  It took about 15 minutes and I was on my way with welts on my forehead that I wasn't allowed to touch for 12 hours.  I had a headache for a couple of days afterwards (not a migraine though) and my head felt a little bruised in places for a few days too.  By Sunday I was feeling better and was obsessively watching it take effect.  By Monday I couldn't move my forehead at all.

I went about 10 days without needing any major medication for headaches. I had several days where I had my pre-migraine stuff and then a slight headache started, but it never developed fully.  Then came the swim meet and I've been back to feeling like I did before the Botox.  So...we'll see what happens with that.  I go back to the neuro for a check-in early next month and then back for my 2nd round of Botox at the end of September.  After that we'll see where we go.  It's not cheap, but if it works it will be worth it.

I wonder what my life will be life without constant headaches?

Update on the tax thing since I mentioned that last time.  After getting all the fraud stuff filed and taken care of and the actual return (including our request for a $3 refund) filed, we forgot about it.  A couple of weeks ago we got - 2 letters in the mail explaining that our refund couldn't be deposited in our bank account and would be mailed in a few weeks.  I put the letters aside and went through the rest of the mail, only to discover a check from the U.S. Treasury.  For $7,400.  Yeah.  That's a problem.  After unsuccessful attempts to reach anyone on the phone, B ended up taking the check, along with all the paper work that had previously been filed, to the local office where they were completely at a loss as to HOW a refund on a fraudulent return could have been cut.  And also WHY. And mostly, HUH?  Inspires great confidence in the IRS, no?

In other news, at long last we have a new swim coach. I know nothing about him other than his name and that he has 6 years of experience as an assistant coach at a small program.  I'm sure he's going to be great (?!) but we (the coaches) weren't even given the courtesy of finding out about it before the general population and have no way to contact him and no plans for him to meet his coaching staff (except for the summer coaches).  Right now, I'm told, his only concern (and why should that change after 24 years?) is taking the older kids to nationals.  After that, I'm told, he will get around to meeting with his coaches.  Of course two of us will be on vacation, but we're the trouble makers (or at least I am) anyway so who cares.  I found him on Facebook and sent a friend request but there's no other way to get in touch with him.  I admit, I get really, REALLY ticked off when the message came out to the parents before the coaches.  I had a horrible migraine today, I'm worried about K's shoulder, and I feel lousy and I just lost it.  I am sick of being treated badly by people and I'm done putting up with it.















Friday, May 8, 2015

Speaking of bat-sh*t crazy people....

Did you know that I have spent the last 6 years bitterly jealous over a job that I applied for, interviewed for, and didn't get?  Yeah, me either.  Apparently I have been though, at least according to the person who is in that job who has decided that I am pretty much the worst person on earth as far as my personality goes.  I am snarky, jealous, bitter, mean spirited, egotistical, and think I am better than everyone else.  Yep.  That's me - so brimming with self-confidence and meanness that I am constantly undermining my boss and my coworkers to make myself look better.  I don't ever go out of my way to help my coworkers meet their deadlines or push through a tough issue. I don't ever try and teach other people what I know how to do.

In short,  I am the worst human being ever to work at my office.

On the other hand, I just won an award for customer service from our HQ office and an award as a mentor/coach from the Federal Executive Board whose nomination write up went on and one about me going out of my way to help my coworkers get better at their jobs and solve tough problems.

Which am I supposed to believe?  I am snarky and sarcastic.  It's who I am.  But mean?  Egotistical?

Those of you who know me know that I take negative things, but not positive things, to heart. And so those comments - so unexpected and ridiculous as to actually make me laugh when they were being said (and typed - I transcribed the conversation as it was happening) - have wormed their way into my subconscious and made me 1) spend a lot of time  in the last couple of weeks crying; and 2) hating EVERY second of my job.  Do I believe them? Unfortunately on some level, I guess I do. Because if this one person I respect and thought considered me a friend thinks those things and felt compelled to say them out loud (in a really, really unkind and angry way), then probably other people do as well.  That person's boss?  Maybe. Above them?  Perhaps. Between the 360 evaluation and these recent comments I am doubting everything I do and everyone I work with.  It's not a good place to be for me emotionally.

Rationally I know that the person clearly has issues of his/her own to work through.  That perhaps the jealousy and bitterness isn't on my part but on his/hers.  But...whether he or she really thinks them or not doesn't matter to me.  They cannot be unsaid.  They cannot be unheard.  And I cannot go on as if nothing happened.  It changed EVERYTHING for me.  And I am no longer just stuck in a rut, now I am miserable, anxious, and...sad.

And so...I am looking for a change of scenery.  Atlanta is leading the list right now because it would let me be within driving distance of my sister for the 1st time in 23 years.  There's a lot that needs to happen before we actually get beyond the thinking and dreaming stage, but...the person who said she would never move again is actually considering it.  If the change of state doesn't come through, a change of location here in PA might help - some place closer to a train line so I don't have to commute 2 hours each way or depend as heavily on working from home would open up options for me in my current office location.

In the mean time, I am taking Zantac for the pain in my gut and nausea I get when between Sunday afternoon and Friday evening, trying to work through the almost daily migraines caused by the stress and lack of sleep, and working to get some focus back for the mounting to-do list I have (which got even longer yesterday).  All in between looking at beautiful houses in McDonough, GA and hoping some will be available when/if I am ready.

Anyway...

Hearkening back to the tax return fiasco...we got a letter from the billing company that handled the ambulance ride I took back in 2013. Turns out an employee stole personal info from a bunch of people and sold it to a TAX FRAUD RING.  People were arrested, but the info was resold and found this past February in the hands of someone else.  So...mystery solved on how they got my info.  B's probably came from Home Depot or Target since he was part of both of those.  Actually, he is now waiting for his THIRD new debit card in the last year since it was hacked AGAIN.  Luckily our bank is on top of things and as soon as anything weird shows up ($.65 at a hotel in Massachusetts?) they put a hold on it and call.  So that's good at least.

In other news, K started PT for her back today and will start for her shoulder next Tuesday.  She is out of the water until June sometime.  I am sad for her, but I would rather she sit out now and get stronger than swim through it and end up with chronic pain.  I am very thankful and relieved that she doesn't have a stress fracture, which is what the doctor was convinced it was.  She, apparently, has a minor defect in her lower spine that is a milk form of spina bifida.  It makes athletes prone to stress fractures.  Instead, she has gumby like laxity in her ligaments from "being a young girl" and grew so fast that her strength couldn't keep up.  Her hips and core are weak, weak, weak.  So...today she got what amounts to a Pilates routine to do every day.  I think I will do it with her to get my hips more flexible too.  we will add in the shoulder exercises and some more for her back next week and take it from there.  We both loved the therapist.















Friday, May 1, 2015

God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.

God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.   

Or in some cases, people are f*&^ing a$$holes.

Originally I started writing this mid-April about my neighbors.  Not my immediate neighbors, but my extended neighbors in my neighborhood.  Then we found out that someone stole our identities and filed a fraudulent tax return and it started to morph into a rant.  But then I got side tracked and didn't come back to it for a while and lost my rantiness and...well, let's just get to it.

First…the neighbors. 

Now that it is getting (sort of) nicer outside (birds chirping in the below freezing temperatures, etc.) I’ve enjoyed seeing what people in my neighborhood are up to.  There’s the guy down the block who moved in last fall and promptly tore out every plant and bush in his yard.   This is the guy (I think I mentioned) who ripped up six gorgeous peonies and THREW THEM OUT.  I would have paid him to take them AND dug them out myself, but I digress.  He didn’t stop with the beautiful perennials, he kept going leaving a few big old trees and one ugly yew (I hate yews) and one scraggly rhododendron.  As soon as the snow started to melt he had a tree service come in and cut down ALL THREE trees.  We are wondering when he will have the grass paved over.

Then there is the guy behind us who has enough wood and prefab trusses in his yard to frame an entire house…but no room to build one.  He has been working on a nice workshop/shed for about 3 years and finally has doors on them.  Now the wood appears.  What the heck is he going to do with them?  Rip his roof off and spend the next 3 years building a full second story?  

The other night someone rang our bell.  Two women stood on the porch and introduced themselves as our neighbors from the next street.  They weren’t there to make friends, but to try and sell us on their services as “public adjusters” who would review our insurance and then inspect our house for damage.  Umm…no thanks.  It may have a little something to do with the fact that not only don’t I know you but I also question your wisdom in wearing sweat pants to try to sell me on your expertise as a professional anything. 

This past weekend K and I went down to the park to “run” while B walked the dogs.  I felt like I was wearing cinderblocks on my feet and did 4 miles at about 8:15/mile.  I could NOT go any faster, which was very weird.  K did about a mile jogging and another mile or so walking which was good for her.  She needs to be careful of her feet and start very slowly.  She wanted to be ready for a local 5K at the end of April, but I don’t think that is possible.  It was quite cold outside, but sunny and otherwise pretty.  K got to wear her new workout tights – one of the things we bought her during a 3.5 hour shopping marathon the day before. 


Since Christmas the kid has grown about 2 inches.  Suddenly her pants, jammies, and shorts were all WAY too short on her.  She was down to 2 pairs of jeans and a series of floods that she couldn’t wear out.  So we took a Saturday afternoon and went shopping specifically for pants.  We managed to find 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of workout tights, 2 jammie pants, and 3 pairs of shorts as well as 1 romper (what the HECK is with the resurgence of rompers??  Yuck), 2 flannel shirts on the clearance rack, and 2 pairs of spring/summer shoes.  We still have to look for some sweats and additional shorts for the spring/summer but I think I found those on the clearance page at Kohls.  She spent the rest of the afternoon going through her closet and drawers and pulling out everything she no longer likes (shirts with sparkles or writing are suddenly gross) or too small and put them in the pile to go to good will.  Her closet went from over flowing with hand-me downs that she could wear now or in the future to pretty empty.  Which is fine as she had way too many clothes to begin with!  It is sad that the balance of clothes has shifted from almost all hand-me-downs to almost all purchased ourselves. We’ve lost all but one of our hand-me-down sources, unfortunately!  It was definitely a blessing the last 10 years though!

So yeah, the tax returns.

B went to file our taxes on TurboTax and it wouldn't go through.  After trying it a couple of times, he called TurboTax and found out that someone had already filed our taxes for us!  Isn't that helpful?  yay!  Or not.  They couldn't tell us who but could tell us that it had happened a week before and that it had been accepted by the IRS.  Thanks, IRS.  They gave him a long list of things that we had to do which have included:  call the police and file a report ("You know we can't do anything about this, right Sir?  But we'll still take your report."), call the FTC and file a report of fraud, call the police back and get the report number, call the FTC back and give them the police number, but a fraud alert on all three of our SSNs with the credit reporting agencies, sign up for free credit monitoring courtesy of TurboTax, file an affidavit with the IRS which includes the FTC info, file our taxes in hard copy with the affidavit, get really mad and complain about it a LOT.  

We did all that and a few weeks later got a letter from the IRS saying that it appeared we had filed tax returns claiming disability income, business income, and some other things that made no sense so they had flagged it for further investigation and delayed the requested refund.  They are worried that it could be fraud!  (You think?!) It gave us a number to call at the IRS's fraud department.  B called and actually spoke to a person who was very helpful, made all kinds of notes about the fraud and everything we had done to date about it, and said that we would likely have to file with a special pin number in the future to verify our identifies.  Now we wait....for our actual $3 refund.  In the meantime, I will continue to curse the [insert very bad word] who stole our info and wish him or her all sorts of terrible illnesses and pain for their laziness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shake it Off


Yesterday I had a lesson on how mean people can be.  Now, I realize in the grand scheme of things, even in the grand scheme of my puny life, having someone make an unkind comment to me is essentially meaningless; however, it took me by surprise and thus elicited a very strong reaction from me. 

As some background – in anticipation of having a team-leader position (quasi or real) to apply for in my office (which position never materialized, long story), I signed up for a “Great Leaders” class offered by my employer through Franklin Covey.  I liked the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People class I took a number of years ago and so this seemed like a good bet too.  It is a fairly big commitment – three Tuesdays in a row – with reading and homework and projects to work on before and after.  One of the things I had to do in advance was request that people complete a “360 assessment” of my leadership skills.  I sent a request to 25 people and 13 of them responded (what does THAT say, I wonder?).

Yesterday I printed out the report to take to the first class – noting that the numbers were about what I expected, maybe a little better.  Until I got to the last written (anonymous) comment. 

It was not directed at my work, but at me personally and was…mean.

There’s really no other way to describe it.  It was mean.  And it took me by surprise.  And it made me cry. 

People I shared the comment with said it was the mark of a mean-spirited, probably jealous person and that I should disregard it and focus on the constructive comments.  I want to, believe me, I do.  BUT – here’s the problem: the people I asked to complete the assessment were people I respect and with whom I work relatively frequently and closely.  These are people who, though they may not be my besties and from whom I expected some tough constructive criticism, I thought respected me as well.  To find out that one of them – haven’t figured out who – not only thinks I suck as a leader, but as a human being too.  Wow.  That hurts.  And there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to fix it.   Haters, gonna hate, hate, hate.

There are some of the responders or potential responders who I know for certain did NOT make the comment.  But I couldn’t figure out how I would interact with the others now?  I was embarrassed.  And so I sat there and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I wasn’t sobbing or anything but I couldn’t’ stop my eyes from leaking for about 40 minutes.  And then for the rest of the day anytime I thought about it, my eyes would well up again.  I got a migraine for my troubles and I fell asleep last night without even saying goodnight to anyone at about 8pm.  Great day. 

I am given to self-pity and wallowing – I know that about myself.  I am, in general, not a shiny, happy person.  It doesn’t take much to derail my mood and send me into a dark place for longer than I care to stay.  It sometimes requires a great force of will and some real effort (and a lot of sleep) to get out of the mire.  So…today I am trying shake it off -  focus on work, focus on my homework, and take steps to just move on.  I asked someone to be my mentor through the homework process.  I sent a draft purpose statement to my teammates for comment.  I printed out everything I need to take to DC with me next week.  I haven’t mentioned it to anyone today.  But I still keep wondering which of my co-workers has that low opinion of me and why.  Which has made shaking it off difficult.
 
Until...I got an e-mail from someone at HQ asking me to teach the [my job] course as part of a new attorneys class in May.  It's only 2 hours and I could probably do it in my sleep, but it felt G.R.E.A.T. to be asked to do something that validates my talent, even if only in my own mind.  Take that hater.
 
 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How not to win customers


This past summer B made an appointment with a window installation company who was going door-to-door in our neighborhood trying to drum up business.  We need new windows (though have no plans to buy them in the near future), it was a free estimate, and B felt some sympathy for the guy who came to the door.  The day for the appointment came and went.  B couldn’t leave the house while he waited for them to show up.  They never did.  Nor did they call that night.  He got a call the next day asking him to reschedule and he politely declined. 

They have called B. 2 or 3 times a month ever since – to the point that he had to block the number on his cell phone.  Monday they decided to call our home number where they addressed me by my first name before identifying themselves.  When he asked if he could come out and do an estimate for us,  I realized who it was and politely said no thank you we aren’t interested.  He persisted, “did you decide that now isn’t the right time for new windows?” 

No.  You made an appointment and didn’t show up before.  We aren’t interested in rescheduling.

“I’d like to make that up to you, when can I come out?”

Never.  We aren’t interested in rescheduling.

“Well how many windows do you have out there?”

He continued to talk and I finally just talked over him, thanked him for calling, and hung up on him.

WTH? 

Are we going to have to block the number to our home phone too?

Theoretically spring is coming soon; however, there is very little evidence of that around us.  For the last 5 or 6 weeks the world has been white – covered in varying depths of snow and ice.  It has been very, very cold much of the time so any melting has been minimal.  I think it is beautiful, with the bright sunshine that we’ve had on occasion, the snow is glittery and pristine and so pretty and February has been SO much better than January in that regard.  But…enough is enough.  My ankles and feet hurt from having to walk the dogs in my boots for the last month.  I’ve fallen on my a$$ or other sundry body parts 7 times, going down hard only once, and causing only minor bumps and bruises so far, and a fair bit of embarrassment on the others.  The dogs think it is great fun when I slip, but scary as heck when I trip and go flying.  Most of the neighborhood is walkable, but there are plenty of places where people did a crap job of clearing two or three or ten storms ago.  The melting, thawing, refreezing, more snow on top, cycle makes things kind of treacherous.   Another reason to dislike people.

I think by now the bulbs are normally coming up but there’s not even a hint of grass catching sunshine right now.  I hope that the cold weather has kept them hibernating (or whatever bulbs do) and that they aren’t trying to come up under the snow and rotting.  If it doesn’t warm up soon and melt the snow, it will be after Easter before we see any flowers in the ground or on the trees! 

Although fall is my favorite season, I am most eagerly waiting for Spring.