Life’s Little Ups and Downs

This week has left me feeling a little shell-shocked. In my mind I hear Karen Carpenter singing, “Talking to myself and feeling old. Nothing ever seems to fit…sometimes I’d like to quit. Hanging around, nothing to do but frown…rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” If you know me, you know that’s not my usual mode of thinking.

Thing is, it’s not raining today. But a few internal storms have passed through this week, and I’m not sure I’m handling them very well.

First came an appointment John & I had on Tuesday. Suffice it to say that it was one of the low points in our married life. No, we’re not having marital problems. The challenge is our finances. At the same time our church is gearing up for another capital campaign, and while we’d like to contribute, we just can’t. Our focus needs to be on helping Julie get her education completed and thinking toward our financial future. I like to be generous with contributions to people in need, and I share what I can along the way.

Then came Wednesday. I was looking forward to it at first–a department break to celebrate my 10 years at my employer and our boss’s birthday. Suddenly it dawned on me, “You idiot! The focus is always on the boss.” (I strongly dislike brown-nosing.) I saw birthday decorations going up and much food being laid out. I’d been to the dentist early that morning and had enough anesthesia to numb me for nearly 12 hours. I think my “niceness filter” was wearing down by midafternoon. And I couldn’t eat many of the crunchy, tasty foods that had been provided. (Not their fault. It didn’t even occur to me that I had scheduled a dental appointment for the day of the break.)

Okay, I feel a bit like a petulant child. I chose to get my feelings hurt that more fuss was not made over my 10 years at my employer. Others have been taken out to lunch for their 5th anniversaries. I get a break tagged on to the boss’s birthday celebration, almost an afterthought. And have I gotten any information about ordering a gift to mark my milestone from HR? No. But I heard yesterday, when I asked someone in the know, that my name had been mentioned in an all-staff meeting that I missed when I was in North Carolina taking care of my dad. Big whoop.

I’ll admit, sometimes I can be a little sensitive. I’ve been in the marketing dept. now for a year. My boss in my previous dept. (much smaller) always remembered my anniversary each year, and it was noted on our department calendar. We celebrated the little things more. In my present department, things are so hectic that we don’t manage to get together for lunch except on the fly.

But 10 years…isn’t that something to celebrate? 10 years of my life dedicated to one organization. I think that’s definitely an occasion to make a tad of a fuss over.

I’m struggling with fitting into my “new” work environment. Yesterday my boss came to me and asked me about moving into another, larger office. Normally that would be great news, but right now I just feel like battening down the hatches. I don’t quite feel like I fit in, and the new office is on the other side of our kitchen, isolated from the rest of our department. While there are some advantages to being removed from the hubbub, I’ve gotten quite adjusted to the noise level (something that happens when you’re around creative people). I am creative too, and I benefit from bouncing ideas off others. My fear is that I will be cut off (out of sight, out of mind) from the people I work with…and I will be seen merely as a workhorse.

At the same time, I hear messages like, “We are so fortunate to be employed.” Well, yes we are…but I also like to feel like a vital part of the place where I work. I have become (in my eyes) a peon. I’m not exactly timid when it comes to sharing my ideas at work, but I’ve discovered that it makes a difference who is offering the ideas.  I thought I’d made my peace with that, because I’ve been in some top editorial positions, and I’m not sure the additional money was worth all the additional expectations.

Today my spouse & I are headed to Jackson, MS to pick up our daughter to bring her home for the summer. I have anxieties about that. Last summer was a disaster for our family. Of course, we have progressed (I hope) since then…my husband is on top of his depression, he’s gotten a job substitute teaching (I have know idea what he will do this summer to bring in income), and medication and counseling have helped him recover. I went through some counseling myself last summer to be sure I was doing what I needed to do to help him (and me).

So right now I’m just an emotional mess. I know what’s caused it…constant stress at work, concern over my dad’s health, financial struggles. I’ve tried to attend to my physical and spiritual health. There just aren’t any quick fixes, and sometimes you have to just tie a knot and hold on.

This reminds me of what a coworker at Thomas Nelson who was going through some really tough times used to say: “Hangeth in there, o babyeth.” And what another friend whose mom died of ovarian cancer said (and she never cursed): “Shit happens.”

I am praying for new perspective. There are many positive qualities to be found even in seemingly negative situations. I may become the new Ms. Cheap for our local newspaper. (Ha.) I do like my job…I guess I just succumb to the human need for a little attention every now and then. It’s hard to keep up a sustained level of frenzied work for very long and remain emotionally healthy. I can continue to take walks and do yoga and pray–my time-tested ways of dealing with stress.

Meanwhile, one foot in front of the other. I will survive. Do I hear strains of Gloria Gaynor and the flash of disco balls?

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