Inspired by a friend’s comments on Facebook, I’m working on some blog posts to highlight my journey to living healthier. I shall call this collection of blog posts “My Life Beyond Fat.”
I have been reading a LOT in the past few month. And unlike what I said over a year ago, I’m serious about reading the classics that I avoided as a young person. I’ve read “The Three Musketeers” and absolutely loved it. It is now one of my favorite books. In my excitement over a sequel being released, I re-read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was as good as ever. And now, I’m reading “Fahrenheit 451.”
With all of these books, I have read the physical copies. I have went to the local library and selected the print edition, devouring them with much fervor. As I sat down this evening, looking at the cover of “Fahrenheit 451,” I briefly thought about the fact that I’ve would have to go to the library to return the book when I’m finished. Like with so much recently, my very next thought was influenced by my new perspective on health – “Well, it will get me out of the house and keep me active.”
Then it hit me – convenience tends to lead to sedentary existence. I don’t have to go to the DVD cabinet, I can sit on the couch and just push a button on my Roku remote to watch, rent, or buy a movie. I don’t have to go to the library or the bookstore, I can sit on my bed and download one to my Kindle. My husband has an Amazon Echo – if I want to turn on the radio, instead of getting up and finding the station, I can be anywhere and just say a command, and the music starts playing. If I need to purchase something, including groceries, I don’t have to do anything more than a few swipes on my smartphone and my desires will be delivered to my door within 1-2 business days.
All in the name of convenience. Yet we continue to have more health issues, socially deteriorate, and further alienate ourselves from the people who live next door – and yet we wonder why some cannot feel empathy for the suffering of people who are thousands of miles away.
I’m going to continue to go to the library and read physical books. I will go to the store and purchase things. I will consider it a blessing to walk down many aisles to get all of my groceries.
There was a strange foreboding in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when one of the characters said, “If you’re not jacked in, you’re not alive.” In the information age, an act of revolution is to actually go outside and not live your life from your couch.
Convenience. Is it really worth it?
The company I have been discussing in previous posts, my soon-to-be-former employer, is the eCommerce juggernaut Amazon.
I used to love this company. I fully bought into and accepted the vision of what we were continuing to create 12 years ago. Like I’ve stated previously, I began having concerns in the past 6 years, specifically in how employees are treated. We expanded so quickly that we quickly hired many managers and decision makers who never fully internalized the vision in terms of employee relations.
Not long after I started with the company in the Huntington office, Jeff visited and spoke to all of us. One of the things he said that had always stuck out in my mind was that retailers were missing that mom-and-pop store feel. It’s something that he, that we, wanted to perpetuate in how we treated customers. And at that time, customers meant both external and internal. Things have changed.
I’ve seen a lot, I’ve heard a lot. Hell, as a cog in the machine, I’ve been a part of some things that I didn’t entirely agree with at the time. I’ll have to live with that. I was in denial. I would think, “Surely this is not what it looks like. There has to be more to the story than what I know. Anyone who has read a leadership 101 book knows that you will never be successful if you treat people this way. Employees are not loyal to a company, they’re loyal to their direct managers – and if the manager mistreats the staff, things begin to fall apart.” Well, that is what has been happening because although any good manager knows these things, there’s no place for it in the current Amazon climate. As I’ve stated before, the current leadership style is that it’s acceptable to be an asshole to your employees.
These things had to hit me square in the face for me to realize it. The first nudge was a couple of years ago.
Those of you who have followed my book, 80% of the proceeds of “The Source” go to Megan, a child who has survived leukemia twice. What I haven’t broadcast (except on my radio interview on The Rudebuoyz on WMUL) is that Megan is my niece. Her mother, my sister, used to also work for this eCommerce juggernaut as a manager. Her career with the company came to an end, involuntarily, when she over-extended her FMLA because she was taking care of her 8-year-old child who was being treated for cancer. What kind of company does that? Sure, it may be legal. Sure, it’s not against company policy. But is it an ethical or moral practice? In my opinion, abso-freaking-lutely NOT.
I had an emotional crisis at that point. This ugliness happened to my family. I wanted to rage against the machine then. Yet, I had convinced myself that I needed to trudge on, for the benefit of my own daughter, so I could provide the best I could for her – and ultimately use some of my income to help pay for Megan’s medical bills. Well, I’ve already discussed how non-competitive my pay was in the Seattle market. I’m sad to say that I’ve only been able to send $300 to help, along with the meager royalties from book sales. Still, $300 is better than nothing, right?
Then I was hit with it directly, as described in What Did You Like Least About Your Job. It took me getting broken to accept the fact that this company that I have loved for so many years actually views me and other employees as expendable.
I get it now. Message received. The Universe knows that sometimes I need to be hit between the eyes with a 2 x 4 before I clearly see things for what they are. My Third Eye is bruised, and I’m tired of being treated as less than what I AM. I’m also tired of others being treated the same way. If you are reading this, know that you are worth so much more than you realize – don’t let anyone ever try to convince you otherwise.
Still, I was broken. The great thing about this is that I now get to take the pieces and re-create them in the image I want, not the image someone else tells me to accept.
“Rise. Rebel. Resist.”
A scream not of terror, but of relief. On October 20, 2014, I gave notice at the office job that I’ve had for twelve years. Actually, my twelve-year anniversary will be the last day with the company, November 25, 2014.
The good news is that I will be taking a couple of months off from the corporate drag and focus on my writing. I will FINALLY have the energy and will to complete “Mining the Dark.” My ability to complete my own projects will be astronomical once I don’t have these other distractions.
The GREAT news is that I will devote much of this time to my daughter, spending the holidays with her and being more present at her school.
This time away from the grind will also allow me to continue my path to healthy living.
In a nutshell, I cannot wait for this next chapter to begin.
Expect more on these topics over the coming months as I continue to process the impact of it all, and how my life is getting better because I said ENOUGH.
It has been over a month since I got my official diagnosis. As you may remember, Dr. P was toying with the idea that I’m bipolar. She had said, “I’m not ruling out the possibility.” To me this meant that she wasn’t sure.
During my final appointment, she decided what to write in my chart, what advice to give my primary care physician. As she explained it to me, I did not have enough symptoms for a definitive diagnosis of bipolar II. She stated that my doctor and therapist should continue to be watchful for any mood cycling, and if does occur, she suggested a mood stabilizer to add to my daily cocktail. Basically, I’m a borderline case, someone who is right on the edge of the diagnosis, dancing precariously on the side of anxiety disorders mixed with depression.
Here is my official diagnosis:
Depressive mood disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Honestly, this all sounds right to me. Just looking back over the years and the experiences I’ve had, this mix makes sense. Not that bipolar doesn’t make sense, just that I always defined my “cycling” as long patterns of chronic depression, broken up by uncontrolled anxiety attacks, which on one occasion included “psychotic” features (meaning dissociation and hallucinations).
As I explained to Dr. P, I allow the stress to build to the point that my mind forces me to take somewhat of a vacation. It’s a survival response, although many would call it crazy.
Now, to continue on my path of getting healthy, I need to make sure that I continue to take my medicine and not allow myself to get fooled by the notion that “oh, I’m okay now.” I’ve done that before, and the result has been less than attractive. I’m also continuing therapy with Dr. F, changing my lifestyle and most importantly, being more aware of my physical responses to things, particularly when I begin experiencing signs of a panic attack.
This is the course of action I’m taking. Not just medicating myself, but looking for ways to prevent these responses before they happen, to get at the root cause and placate it. This approach has been working well for the anxiety. Not so much for the depression. It seems that medicine is the only thing that helps with that darkness.
There is change on the horizon. It may be slow, but it will be glorious.
I’ve been writing, getting healthier (have lost 30 pounds) and forming ideas for an epic venture for all of us to enjoy.
Much of this stems from the fact that I realized that when it comes to my day job, I don’t love what I do. I don’t love my environment. In fact, I consider my current work situation to be untrustworthy and unhealthy. It’s beyond time for change.
When thinking of what I want to do in the future – aside from writing, of course – I know that there has to be a teaching aspect. I once received a tarot reading where the person told me that at my core I am a teacher, and whatever I do in life, I should never stop teaching. It’s the reason why the majority of my professional career has been in training and development – I’m currently an Instructional Designer, developing eLearning courses for a large company. So with these new ventures, I’ll most certainly devote much of it to a learning aspect.
Speaking of tarot, although I have not mentioned it before, as a writer it’s time to come out of the broom closet. Yes, I am Pagan. I have practiced various forms of Paganism for over 26 years. I embrace the word Pagan because not only am I a country dweller at heart, labels such as Wiccan never felt right to me. But that’s me. And these are things that we’ll all explore in my new ventures. I will post more when plans are closer to being finalized.
Thanks to everyone who has been supportive during these trying months. Your kind words have impacted me more than you know. Blessings to you all…even to the haters.