Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wheels of the Bus

When the wheels start coming off the Yesh bus I usually don’t have to look far for the probable causes. I have known for some time that four things sustain my sanity, my balance. Four things keep me from running off the road. They are diet, exercise, meditation, and writing. Every time I see life spinning out of control I just have to take a look at this short checklist and I know at least one of them has probably gone AWOL.

So let’s take a look.

Diet? I am pretty much on track with the whole weight management crusade, but not without a few significant spin outs in recent days—the pre- and post- Yom Kippur overindulgences; the lost weekend at my cousin’s wedding in South Carolina (loves me some Southin’ cookin’); and then (where the heck did this come from all of a sudden?) a new passion to bake fresh challah and other breads—something I hadn’t done in decades! I have managed to get back on plan, but not after doing some serious damage!

Exercise? Hanging in there with some walks and bike rides and visits to the gym, but not nearly as consistent as during the summer.

Meditation? Again, not doing nothing, but not doing the something with the same regularity I had been—definitely slipping there.

Writing? I squirmed a little the other day when a friend asked, “Have you not posted a blog since September 9?” That is what made me stop and inspect the tires. The treads are all wearing mighty thin. Ergo, I write.

Part of what has been hampering some of these activities is a sudden spike in activity in my work life. I hate when work interferes with life. It actually amuses me that the folks at work even refer to this issue as “work/life balance,” suggesting that work and life are somehow distinct from one another. Perhaps it is this spike in work that has led me to a greater awareness of just how distinct these two realms may have become.

Last week, at the suggestion of my boss, I created two lists. The first one is of my responsibilities in the role I assumed this year. It looked great on paper—a decent mix of activities, many of which I am either good at or enjoy doing or both, and perhaps in a few cases neither. I compared this to the second list of the things that I truly am good at and enjoy doing. To be specific, designing and facilitating training are the activities that have sustained me in this job for the better part of twelve years! Somehow, as the year progressed, all of the potential instructional design and facilitation tasks evaporated. The one project I was most eagerly engaged in just imploded the week before last when senior management decided that more senior management needed to sit in judgment as to whether this was a worthy use of my time. That is their prerogative. Nonetheless, was the crowning touch on a work year that has clearly lost most of its fun.

My former mentor, John Kahl, of blessed memory, would call this realization Divine Discontent. I indeed appreciate the power that comes from seeing more clearly what is not working for me. It is what led me to speak with my current boss about providing me with more opportunities to do more of what I most want to do and has provided the greatest benefit to the firm over the years. If, on the other hand we discover that the firm no longer has an interest in such services, that is useful information too.

Is it the doldrums at work that have led the bus astray or vice versa? Not sure I can say, but it seems the biggest challenge is not my assignments, but resurrecting a positive attitude. The steps to attaining that remain clear. Today I’ve stayed on plan food-wise, this morning I fit in my daily constitutional (which included my “Walk ‘n’ Talk” meditation), and tonight I copped a long overdue writing fix. These all may just be rubber patches on the inner tube of my soul, but at least I’m back rolling down the road.

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