Little furry ball and chains

I just tried to go for a walk. My cats had other ideas. First Poppy followed me, miaowing in a most uncharacteristic manner and circling my feet. I figured she was just miffed that I had left without letting her back in the house – so obediently retraced my steps and let her in. At which her brother, Ixxy, came bounding out and proceded to do exactly the same when I set out again. This is not particularly like them. Do they know something I don’t I wonder?

Anyway. I decided to come in and have a cup of coffee instead. I’ll go out in a bit and catch the bus into town. Walking can resume another day.

And it will. The purpose of my walk, as well as just a walk on a nice-ish, warm-ish spring day, was to talk to myself.

Sounds odd perhaps, but I set myself a little mission a while back, to get better at talking. Outloud.  I’m fine with written communication – but sometimes I really struggle verbalising orally.  It’s like the wiring between brain and mouth is dial up compared to that between brain and hand which is high speed fiberoptic or whatever the latest whizbangery is.

So I try, occasionally to do one of these brain dump type things into the voice recorder on my phone.  It’s tremendously difficult. And listening back is excruciating. Why do I sound so posh? And knackered? The microphone picks up every pant and wheeze. I don’t sound healthy.

Of course I’m not really very healthy at all. And therein is another of my many motivations to walk.

Tomorrow is my last day at work.

I took voluntary exit. This is huge. Sixteen and a half years. All manner of stress and torment. Done.

I’m sad it’s ended the way it has. It’s going to be a damp squib – only one or two people left of those I have spent such a chunk of my life with. The service I have worked in and tried to build up and improve over the years as I got more responsibility – well. Good luck to those left behind and now arriving. I have hope but it shouldn’t have been let down so badly. Cuts upon cuts upon cuts – so much skill and knowledge lost.

But that ceases to be my problem tomorrow.

My problem then is me. Sorting out my head, my body, and building up a new life that will bring me more joy than I had before.

I don’t underestimate the task.

Walking threads through it. I’ve long wanted to build up a daily walking habit, but long commutes and working hours have combined with depression and exhaustion to just make it never stick. Well then now is the time to overcome that.

I have all the time in the world. For at least a few months. Which should be enough to build a habit.

Fitness, time to think, to brew ideas, to talk to myself. To feel the breeze on my face, to explore my beautiful home, to listen to the birdsong and the wind, the distant trains and cars. Smell the smells of the countryside, both fragrant and foul. Be inspired, take pictures, paint, write poetry. Remind myself that the world is there, living, breathing, being so much more that what we see in the tellybox. That there is peace and joy among the chaos and the noise.

And somewhere in there I will find the strength I need to make the next however many years better than the last. Not that the last have been bad – but we all deserve better if it is possible.

It’s not about money, or fame, or status. It’s feeling at peace, and that you are doing what you should be doing with your time, not just whatever you ended up doing when your little boat first hit the shore of adulthood.

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Family

This has been a hard week in so many ways. We have come to the latest milestone in an excrutiating restructuring programme which is eviscerating my team. Already we know who is leaving. Today is the deadline for those applying to stay. A horrible process which – while it was never going to be easy – has certainly not been designed to minimise stress for the participants. It’s been hard work even to do my contributions, when I know I am leaving. The torment for those wanting to stay is just horrible.

I worry for the future. Theirs, mine, the service we have struggled so hard to keep going and do well. But at least we have one. The hardest thing this week has been losing one of our own. We heard on monday that a colleague had passed away the previous week. This was sudden, despite her having been ill for a week or two. We didn’t have any idea it was anything serious. Indeed neither did she. She thought it was stress related, as did the doctor she saw. Because the last few months have been awful, it’s not unlikely that many of us might have been fraying at the seams. But apparently there was something else underneath. We don’t know what yet.

I feel bereft. My team is my little family. I feel motherly towards them all. I do everything I can to try and help them. Worry desperately about trying to ensure everyone rubs along well together, try to help people understand eachother. I am hugely proud of what we acheive together despite little being in our favour most of the time. I try to encourage staff to make the best of themselves, believe in their capabilities and gently encourage them to reach for whatever goal will bring them happiness.  Sheila was relatively new to the team. She’d been with us a couple of years. She came to us having had a rough time in her previous job, and I wanted to make sure we made her feel welcome. It really wasn’t hard. She was so helpful and willing and eager to learn. She had to learn a whole new range of tasks and applications and processes – because information work is quite different from generic administration work, and more complex than people think it is. But she never moaned. She was keen and interested and gave great service to our customers.

Someone shared with us that she had told them she felt really valued and happy and at home in our team. That gives me comfort. We did our job well.

I am angry that there are managers out there who don’t think like that. Who see their staff as sponges who can absorb more and more and more work, or be wrung out until there is nothing left. Who are unsympathetic if people are sick, or need adjustments to help them be able to deliver the best work they can. We spend so much time together, why make it unpleasant? People who think only of themselves. How can I use this individual to in some way improve my own chances. What competition are they to me? What can I do to sabotage them. I hate that in people. People who see work as an excuse to behave in a manner they never would with friends or family.  Seeing “professionalism” as somehow hard and cold and ruthless. These are the kind of people that make work hell, make people ill, and paradoxically, often make their staff less productive, efficient, cost effective etc. And yet they are the ones who end up at the top of the tree because they don’t care who they step on to get there. Don’t mind making the “difficult decisions” that mean people lose their jobs or are pressured into illness. They don’t say no, or offer other ways of doing things, because they only care about pleasing the boss. Regardless if the boss is wrong. Which they sometimes are. And need telling, respectfully, why what they suggest is a really bad idea.

But that’s a tangent. I was talking about family. There are lots of different types of family. The actual relative ones. The blood ones you don’t get to choose. The adoptive ones you dont get to choose but who chose you. The friend ones you probably get on with most. And the work ones. Who if you are lucky are also friend ones. You might not know them as well as some of the others – but whose fault is that? Anyway. They are precious. Look after them. Mine is hurting and I wish I could make it stop.