Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Life Suck

I'm at a really strange period in life right now. I started a new role in P&G in the environmental space where we consolidated two roles being filled with lots of overtime and two experience people...into me. I knew moving into a completely new field of work would be challenging and that I would have to do some serious automation, cleanup and triaging of the work to make it fit but I wasn't prepared for what has come my way over the last year.

Further complicating things, I also started writing for an awesome cleantech website...and really a whole media network focused on advocating sustainable living across a ton of different topics. That ramped up very quickly and turned into a solid paying part time gig on top of my already loaded boat of day to day work. More recently, I've added on travel for this work which consumes valuable vacation and family time from my day job.

That all hit a wall in May for me when I had a trip to Switzerland for the writing gig which was amazing but preworking everything for my day job to allow me to take the time off, preparing for the trip on a personal level and preparing for the onslaught of content that came at from the tour itself was just a lot to take in.

That has all taken a huge toll on my family with my ability to contribute meaningfully at home on a relational and functional levels dropped into the negative. I was really pushing to make the writing work and while I still hope to do that eventually after paying down a few debts and monthly payments (by installing solar), I'm hoping to be able to move into a new chapter of life. I thought I could do this all in a sprint...a one time effort to ramp one up and ramp the other down...and just suck it up in the meantime but instead, I've hit a wall for the first time in my least this kind of a wall.

Coming out of the Switzerland trip, I've only written a few articles...I just don't have mental energy left to do much of anything productive outside of my day job and frankly, that's just killing me. Not just the writing but I don't have energy or willpower to engage meaningfully in my marriage...I struggle to connect with my kids and feed into them. I'm numb to life and just try to vent my stress or borrow energy and emotion from video games, movies and "tv" (lol that the meaning of that has changed so much in my lifetime).

Working at P&G historically has been great for the most part. Everything in life has highs and lows so I'm used to riding that rollercoaster but sucking it up for a year and more than that...not seeing an end in sight but really only seeing the potential for a downward slide is not encouraging. The best analogy I've found for it is that it feels like I'm stuck in an abusive relationship. I feel like I need the income but the workload is just not practical with the energy and capacity for work that I have which are substantial.

The capstone for the struggle is that my work is in compliance so I'm constantly providing official, legal data to government agencies, filing for new permits, responding to requests for information, giving tours and walking the line of compliance with innumerable inspectors for various agencies we are required to entertain in order to do business. The weight of reporting to official agencies at the federal, state and local levels is on my shoulders all the time. I regularly wake up in the middle of the night thinking of some report, audit or agency and that drives me nuts. On top of having too much work, I often end up not getting enough rest and working while exhausted because my mind never stops working.

I'm not complaining about the compliance piece...the awkward bit about all of it is that I have immense passion to push past this compliance piece of the role into driving meaningful reductions in our footprint through cost reduction opportunities and strategic partnerships with our regulatory agencies...and that's really the only thing that keeps me going at work.

This is really just venting and processing out loud but I'm at a loss. Words are my therapy and a critical outlet for me to stream my thoughts out, put them on paper and see what my brain is up to.

Oh, we're working through a tense transition in leadership of the youth group at church...again. I really don't have energy to push that anymore. I've been through just about every stage imaginable to try to initiate meaningful change there with a few successes but mostly just stress and frustration.

I'm thinking that's not an effective place for me to continue working, pushing and investing myself but that's counterbalanced with the sheer vacuum of meaningful investment of resources in the youth of the church. Stay in the group...leave the group. Stay at the church...leave the church before my kids enter the energy to process these things right now but they're definitely floating around as many young families lock in their votes. today has work eating up the majority of me. I'd say 90% of my capacity goes there and I'm really not ok with that. Top priority becomes getting that down to a sustainable level or getting out by working the numbers and just sucking it up. I'm going to target an absurdly low 3 days/week @ 9 hours/day for that with minimal external work, super long days, etc. I'm just not willing to give much more than that for too much longer, sorry. Let's target getting to this in the next year at the latest...and sustain that for 2 years.

Ideally, I could spend 2 full days per week writing with energy left over during the week to write. That's an overexaggeration of what I want because I'm tired of not investing myself in what I think I should be investing myself in. I want energy left at the end of the day to play, to dream, to imagine, to love and to live...

In the meantime, probably scale back investments in retirement to pay down our car loan and get this solar installed...fuck my brain has nothing left.

I may just have to cap the day at 8 hours of working time per day to reign things in. Maybe it will take a few violations to get the site to realize that we need more people to do this work. That sucks.

I don't know...I hope this processing on paper helps me figure out what to do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

"You have cancer" Those words hit me like a sledgehammer to my chest...

"You have cancer." Those words hit me like a sledgehammer to my chest. December was a difficult month for our family...and specifically for me. In the first few days of the month, I found a lump in my testicle that was later identified as being cancerous. After a surgery to remove it and an array of tests, I'm officially cancer free but it was a crazy couple of weeks and it really shook me. 

I didn't share this broadly back then because the word 'cancer' sounds like a death sentence. While I wasn't freaking out, everyone else would have and frankly, that would have just been more for me to deal with and I knew it wouldn't help. Cancer is especially scary when the words "You have..." come before it...but through the process, I learned that it doesn't have to be that way.

You see, I had testicular cancer which is very survivable with roughly a 98% survival rate but I didn't know that at the time. I just knew that I had cancer and that frankly, scared the crap out of me. A bit of research calmed me down a little but I still felt like I had this black cloud hanging over me. As I worked through the various doctors visits, I only gained certainty that I had cancer at first...then realized that all cancers are different and even within cancers of a certain region (like the testes or breasts), there are tons of factors and the reality is that most people - around 2/3s - survive cancer.

I'm not sharing this for sympathy - I'm doing great now and was back to 100% relatively quickly after we worked through the surgery in mid-December to remove the cancer, but rather, I'm sharing my story to let you know that finding out that you have cancer is not a death sentence. We should talk about it as a society to kill the stigma surrounding it and encourage more people to do proactive checks. Pretending cancer doesn't exist or that you won't get it only makes it worse.

When people don't know about the risk or how easy the checks for cancers like testicular cancer are...they don't check for it and that only gives the cancer more time to do damage to your body. I didn't know about self-checks and only found it by chance. Testicular cancer specifically occurs in men (obviously) between the ages 15-40 (not so obvious) which I had no idea about but wish I had. I had naively assumed that cancer was something that happened more commonly as we age...but that's not the case for all cancers.

That's what I wanted to say...and I know that more than anything, you're probably just feeling relieved right now. Somebody else had cancer but they made it, right? I'm glad it wasn't me. That works...almost. 40% of people will get cancer in their lifetime...that's a fact.

And 40% is no small number. Think about it - that's one in every 2.5 humans that will get cancer. Because of that, I encourage you to do a self check and to build that in to your regular routine. For men, it's easy to check for lumps - here's a quick (and humorous) video that shows you how...and for women, here is an intro video that explains self examination practices for breast cancer. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that provide additional details and perspective so please - take this quick step to get informed...then take action :)

These basic checks avoid what otherwise might be a more serious matter and give you what you need most to fight against cancer should it come to that - time. Let's drop the awkward or uncomfortable stigma around cancer and join together to take action today. Get informed and if you want to talk...I'm here.