I will never forget the morning I couldn’t feel my nose.
It was a culminating event, driven by months upon months of increasing pressure at my job as a Complex Project Manager. You might think that working virtual (from home) would decrease the stress and pressure. But the previous eighteen months had seen three downsizings of my work group from 600 people to the 50 of us left at that point. Each outsourcing and RIF took with it the easy projects – those no-brainer tasks that could be whipped out in minutes thus allowing sufficient time to dote on the bloody FUBARs.
So where we had once carried 30 – 35 projects each, with perhaps 5 being the latter category, we now carried 35 – 40 bloody FUBARs. 24/7 pagers made it difficult to fall asleep, lest one be startled awake at 0200 and have to run across the house and fire up the computer or jump on a conference call. We interfaced with 18 different software programs to manage the tasks. Some Unix, some Windows, some who-knows-what and most without interfaces to the others.
EVERYTHING was needed yesterday. Type fast, think fast, act fast, and good Lord don’t mess it up and have to do it again.
So, back to that morning. I didn’t realize that I had not been sleeping. Oh, I knew I was TIRED. But I didn’t realize how acute the situation had become. In an act of pure defiance, my brain took over and started shutting down my body. My hands and feet and nose were stone cold. When a co-worker called to check on something, I commented that I couldn’t seem to get my s*%t together that day and had been staring at the computer for a couple hours.
“I can’t feel my nose,” I told her, pressing my icy fingers against the icy tip of it. “My hands and feet are numb.”
“Call Employee Assistance,” she ordered me like a drill sergeant. “Get off the phone and do it now.”
That defining moment was in 2002. For sixteen years, I’ve wanted to SLOW DOWN. I got a break then, taken out of work for a six week respite. Went through a misdiagnosis of depression that was really sleep deprivation. Got laid off in a RIF. Stepped away from the white collar world and into the line side of commercial aviation and loved it.
Managed to raise the two boys – not always as successfully as we’d like, but they are decent people who aren’t perfect. Welcome to life.
And still, I want to slow down.
That’s the underlying drive of this blog. It’s about slowing down. I don’t mind working hard, but then I want to take a break and just sit and savor…maybe at a little cafe in the south of France. Or look out a window at snow-covered silence while a fire glows next to me.
When I started the blog, I had one image of how my life would be. That has evolved, as did my work and financial needs. But that yearning to slow down, to have time to savor beauty and serenity and sit next to my husband with a glass of wine and watch the sunset…that hasn’t changed.
So, I’m resurrecting this concept and throwing open the doors for discussion of the idea of not working year round. Let’s do this.
Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.