I am a non-practicing Catholic. I don’t attend mass. I don’t belong to a church. Actually, I don’t even know where the closest Catholic church is. But I still consider myself to be Catholic; I guess I always will. And it’s more than just habit. I looked into other religions and decided that Catholicism suited me best, even in the nominal non-practicing way I I have it in my life.
Every year I observe Lent. I do this for two reasons: because, despite my shortcomings, I do still consider myself to be Catholic; and, because I join the rest of my family in this yearly ritual.
Every year I give up something for Lent. I put thought into what that “something” is because I want it to be an act that’s going to have an impact. It’s not something small that I won’t miss. It’s something I actually enjoy, crave, delight in on a regular basis. Something that’s going to make me suffer, even if a litte bit. For the period of Lent I deny myself something, and it’s a little bit of an act of faith in myself and in my religion.
Previous years have included giving up meat (I’m not a vegetarian), sweets, bread, Diet Coke and other things. Usually the first two or three weeks are the hardest. But by the time Easter rolls around, I’ve become accustomed to the deprivation.
This year, however, I’m giving up coffee. Coffee. My life’s blood. My most favorite beverage. The thing that keeps me sane. The thing that keeps my mood swings in check enough that I don’t cause damage to others.
I will miss it. I will suffer, more than just a little bit. It will have impact.
The world, however, should worry. I am not going to be pleasant for the next six weeks.
It’s become painfully obvious to me (and anyone and everyone in my life) that I need to do a better job of managing my stress. A read an article at Lifehacker that suggests some strategies to overcome stress. The one I wanted to share, and take to heart:
Think About the Progress That You’ve Already Made. “It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.”
I spend my days focusing on my to do list, specifically focusing on the items that don’t get done. There’s an argument to be made that my to do list is too long to be effective. But I know that I’m looking at the wrong part of the list. Instead of celebrating the many strikethroughs, I obsess over the many many items that don’t get touched.
And I turn to chocolate and caffeine and fried foods.
I need to do better. I am doing better… slowly.
* * *
I had a bad day.
I joke quite a big that I am too exuberant. It’s true.
I know that I can be a drama queen. I’m good at it. I practice.
I make my presence known, in good ways and bad.
But I am very good at what I do.
My little tantrums don’t affect my job. I’d venture to say that the same personality traits that make the tantrums happen also fuel my creativity. They are spurts of noise that help me jump the blocks in my way.
And my numbers increase. My effectiveness continues, while resources decrease and pressures get worse.
Today I am not feeling grateful. Tomorrow I will do better.
To the person who spent the day screeching, yelling, overreacting, swearing loudly, irritating coworkers, worrying my assistant, disrupting others, acting like a lunatic, making herself sick with anxiety and worry over things that were completely out of her control and that ultimately mattered to very few people…
Stop pretending to be me, using my name and my clothes and my face and my life, making others believe that I am the crazy person who needs some sort of medication or meditation or whatever, destroying the little bit of professional decorum Â I had left, and making it so it’s going to take me years before I live down today’s activities…
I am not that person. I am calm and collected, always. I promise.
Yes, I think I’d have fun at your workplace.
Yes, what my job would entail is essentially getting paid to do things I’m already doing for fun.
Yes, I know that I could accomplish quite a bit working for you.
Yes, I know that there’s room for advancement and to learn in this job.
Yes, I think I’d be a really good fit for your organizational culture.
Yes, I already have a few friends who work there.
Yes, you have nice toys I can play with while working there.
Yes, I really want to say yes.
No, I will not be taking that job.
I cannot take a job making almost half what I make now.
I cannot take a job that doesn’t even offer benefits.
I like paying my bills, and my rent, and buying groceries and stuff.
I cannot live off job satisfaction alone.
Good luck finding someone else. I’m sure there’s someone out there, with less experience and expertise, who won’t wince at the salary.