Keep On Keep’n On

You know that saying, “How do you eat an elephant? ………. On bite at a time.”? Life is like that.

Elephant

I find myself at work overwhelmed with tasks. What should take five minutes ends up taking fifteen. What should take fifteen ends up taking an hour. 200 unread email messages in my Inbox. I devote an hour to work through them. My reward: 192 unread messages (because so many keep coming in).

I’ve been here before. About two years ago I was staring at my ever enlarging Inbox. It was in the neighborhood of about 350 unread messages. I felt my throat thicken. I started to immediately sweat and quite profusely. My lungs shrunk. It was a full on panic attack. 

I slammed shut my laptop, slid away from the desk in my home office, and staggered into bed, all the while trying to hide the tears from my wife.

I still get anxious – and perturbed and frustrated and exhausted – but now I do two things when those feelings rear their ugly heads. The first is remind myself to put it all in perspective. There are only 24 hours in a day, there is a quantifiable limit to how much I can do, and no matter how much I try to get done, I will never be ‘caught up’. Besides, I decided a long time ago that work does not define me, and I refuse to sacrifice my time with my kids or my wife for the sake of getting one more task completed.

The second thing I do is pray. I’ve written about this before, and the tenants hold true. There is no point in drowning yourself in anxiety, and there’s a freedom in surrendering to God. God provides and God knows what’s best for us. It’s when we try to do it all ourselves that we falter, and it’s only in taking our burdens to Him – be they work issues, home issues, personal doubts – that we find relief from them.

So when you sit at the dinner table, and the main course is one giant elephant, just remember: one bite at a time.

Surrender

Bursted Bubbles

I have a saying. “You can’t predict and you can’t control crazy.” The same also applies to stupid. The general gist, however, is that life, circumstances, environment, and yes, other people, are unpredictable. Life is fluid. Life is dynamic. People can be crazy, stupid, and oftentimes both.

My workdays, by contrast, can be somewhat predictable. Even though no two days are ever the same, they’re always filled with tasks I need to complete, reports I need to update, and people pinging me via instant messenger asking me to resolve problems over which I have no control. My job – project management in the IT arena – is breathtakingly un-awesome. I wish I could embellish and tell you stories about break-neck deadlines and nail-biting intensity, but it’s far from that. In a nutshell, it’s trying to manage flawed requests through a flawed process and knowing that somewhere down the line there is going to be a problem. Something going smooth as silk from start to finish is the rare exception to the aforementioned stupid and crazy rule.

So I am sitting here wondering if it was the champagne hangover or the giddiness of the New Year that made me think things at work would be different in 2014. The crazy people: all still there. The stupid people: far outnumbering the smart ones (and counting). Blend this all together with irrational expectations, inflexible policies, and abrasive management styles, and what you get is a big pile of same ol’ same ol’. <the use of the word ‘pile’ is deliberate>

I do have plenty of options. I can begin – as I seem to do every January – to polish up my resume and peruse what’s available in terms of career opportunities elsewhere. I can dig in my feet and push back on every obstacle thrown my way. I can even just shrug it all off with flippant apathy and count the minutes until the end of the work day. But none of these will provide the calm I need to keep me from punching someone in the throat. (Admit it. You have someone in your workplace you would just love to hit right in the face.)

Violent fantasies aside, the one thing I can do which, speaking from experience, is always effective is pray. Through prayer, not only am I engaging in dialogue with God and asking Him to guide me through the landmines of stupid and crazy, I am also blocking out the negative forces that seem to always find residence in the muscles underneath my shoulder blades. For me, prayer can be a spiritual massage that removes stresses from my life and reminds me of the blessings on which I should be focusing.

Work is work, but it’s not my life. Work pays the bills, but it doesn’t enrich my soul. I hope to someday have a profession that is fulfilling and engulfs me with passion and excitement. I also know that if that is what I want, then I am the one that needs to make it happen (a blog post for another day). But until then, when bubbles are bursting, I will be sure to be praying.

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.” Psalm 118:5

Bubble Burst

A Look At Stress

This was forwarded to me from my boss, and I found it so apropos given some of the events currently going on in both my life and the life of my wife. I plan to meditate on this next week as I will be de-stressing on The Rock Boat, but instead of water, I’ll be using a 12 oz. bottle of beer.

***

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I …hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!