Sunday, January 13, 2013

13. Ten Things Fail Jameses for the Day #JanBlogaDay

Today we've been issued the topic Top Ten. We don't get much more than a common theme to go from. Sometimes that can be challenging, other times it's quite easy. I convinced my wife to participate and it's been really interesting to see what she commits to screen in a long-form post. She's the queen of Facebook (every post generates enough comments and likes to be its own forum) but I love the insight that comes from the longer thoughts.

So I've been thinking about Top Ten today. I like lists. Lists are my thing. Before I even knew what the topic was, I was making a list. The past few nights I (and the whole family) have been blessed with good sleep. But then last night, we weren't. Rachel and I made poor choices (me staying up too late, her waking up in the middle of the night and choosing to camp out by the supply cabinet eating snacks and reading books), Ben had a period of wakefulness and Lori just didn't sleep well with lots of tossing and turning. So what I was thinking about in my head was how I would react today. I've had a lot of days lately with negativity and I thought it was just how things were, but these past few days, yesterday in particular, showed me just how valuable a great night's sleep can really be.

So if the only difference between yesterday and today was the quality of sleep (and the disappointing near miss by the Seahawks), here's what I need to be cognizant of today:

1. Interruption Frustration - I learned about this from the free therapy I get by attending Rachel's Neurobehavioral consults. This is when you're so engrossed in something that interruptions are seismic, cataclysmic. She and I both suffer from this. I've learned to endure them silently, giving my attention to the interruption while inside what's going on isn't so pretty. Rachel lets the inside out and it can be scary. For her, we've learned to ease into things that will be a disruption. For me, I've learned to remain calm. My ability to shift gears into the interruption is far improved with a good night's sleep.

Tactic/Response: Anticipate interruptions and mentally prepare for them, do not allow myself to become so engrossed that it's difficult to temporarily surface and shift gears.

2. Plan Disruption - that's happening at this exact moment. I had a plan to work on this post and now I'm being asked to do something else as a member of this household and not a selfish person focusing only on myself.

Tactic/Response: Reprioritize. Put the laptop back on top of the printer and walk away. This post can wait. A child needs tickling. Lori's still on the clock her job needs her somewhere else at the moment. At minimum, prepare to multitask.

3. Overstimulation - I can over-stimulated by too much noise especially when I'm trying to think.

Tactic/Response: Be involved in the noise-making if necessary. Eliminate unnecessary noise (fans, music, cat meowing) where possible. (Don't worry, not eliminating the cat, just figuring out why he's meowing and stop him.)  Take a break if the noise is too distracting and can't be eliminated (like a child's TV show.. those are only 22 minutes long anyhow.)

4. Financial Anxiety - It's bill-paying day. The finances are a bit touchy and complicated at the moment.

Tactic/Response: Remind myself that there's nothing to be anxious about and much to celebrate - Lori and I are on the same page to a greater degree than we have ever been before, we've spent the week reducing costs and setting some goals in a way we never have been before. We're making progress, we have a plan.

5. Injury-Related Anger - Ben will lash out when he's angry, headbutting or scratching. Or just in rocking or moving an unexpected manner. He seems to have a very, very high tolerance for pain, so something that hurts you like crazy seems to have no impact on him. I cut his nails yesterday, but he can still scratch. And he's really good at headbutting in such a way that makes your entire skull vibrate and your teeth hurt. It's the kind that makes you very angry very quickly, some sort of built-in response to a threat. Even when well-rested, the anger just spikes immediately. While none was abusive, I am not proud of some of my responses yesterday. And so today the potential exists for injury and both of us got worse sleep last night. 

Tactic/Response: First, lots of quick kisses and hugs, snuggles and tickles in such a way that I'm back out of range before there's a chance for injury. (Not that these cause him to respond in anger, but sometimes just the way he moves can cause you to get hurt.) Second, be even more careful to make sure that I've done everything I can do avoid injury. It's not entirely possible and I've gotten a few bangs along the edge of the eye socket already today, but just need to remember he doesn't understand. Third, remind him "It's ok to be angry, it's not ok to be mean." because it also gives me a way to respond that's rational and calm. Fourth, don't place Ben or myself in unnecessary situations (such as a therapy exercise) since I already know he will be more frustrated than normal and lash out.

6. Harsh Speech - With two children who've had less sleep than they need, there will be more incidents of bad behavior. Since I, too, have had less sleep than I need, I will be more prone to a quick response, mostly with harsh tone. However, I need to remember that unlike me, a harsh tone will not halt bad behavior but instead invoke a challenge response.

Tactic/Response: Compliment/recognize every observed instance of good behavior. Keep an even, calm tone (power under control) when something does need to be addressed. Be more lenient on the minor infractions.

7. Chaos Anxiety - It's true I have the lowest tolerance for chaos of anyone in this house, most specifically in the area of clutter. But truth be told, this place is in great shape (Rachel's room perhaps exempted) and Lori's been working hard at decluttering and I actually still have a few post-Christmas clutter items to attend to.

Tactic/Response: Don't look in Rachel's room. Beyond that, just shut up. There's some stuff I could work on but this place (especially our bedroom) is in better shape than it's been in a long time. Any desire to complain right now is simply a desire to nitpick or be negative and not actually related to any issue with clutter but just a desire to be negative. Fortunately, I'm not feeling that at the moment.

8. Desire to Reduce Work Stress - If I were to fire up my iPhone or iPad and go into mail, I'd see several hundred outstanding emails for work. A large portion can be reviewed and deleted without any work, and there's a bunch that could be dealt with by way of simple responses. I had almost cleared my inbox that week between Christmas and New Years when I had no meetings and everyone else was gone, but this past week it got filled up probably the worst it's ever been in six years there. My desire is to just sit down and power through it so that it won't be out there nagging me.

Tactic/Response: Recognize that in a given week, I have 40 hours for work. I may work a little extra, but my supervisors and staff and the others with the biggest dependency on me are all well aware of the backlog of email. I've been asked to prioritize my time elsewhere (meetings mostly, though I often do email during those), so all I can do is continue to make sure the backlog is visible. I don't need to spend time at home working on work. Do not be stressed. there's only so much that can be done in the time allotted.  As long as I'm continually assessing priority and keeping people appraised of what I'm working on, that stuff will take care of itself. Important emails will be resent or come to me in another format (Skype, text, in person, phone, etc.) or I will get prioritization assistance from my supervisors or some of the stuff I'm not focusing on will turn out not to be important. (One of my staff the other day told me "I'm going to revise the statement I've been telling my bosses for the past 20 years: 'I don't want your job.'  I am willing to do parts of your job if it allows you to do to other important things and prevents you from being pigeonholed in your current position and therefore unable to be promoted.")

9. Ambitional Task Disappointment - If I were to open Remember the Milk right now, there'd be well over 200 tasks waiting for me, everything from Empty to the Dishwasher to Wash Dining Room Curtains to Do 25 Jumping Jacks. Typically I'll start the day making everything a Priority 1 item. Then I'll go down the list making stuff Priority 2 until I get to something I can do quickly. I'll do that until everything left is a 2. Then I'll go down making things 3s. It's effective in that I'm always working on the easiest, quickest task and I get a lot of stuff done, but it's also a lot of the same, repeatable, daily tasks. The ones that in all reality won't suffer greatly if I miss a day. Didn't fold any laundry today? Shucks and darn. It'll still be there tomorrow. Yesterday, I moved off everything but the vacuuming and started with that. And so as I did each room, I checked it off. I checked off less stuff, but that won't reappear on my list for nearly two weeks.

Tactic/Response: Pick some large items that are one-time or have a long repeat and do them. That will make the list shorter for later. Do not get frustrated that I didn't get more done. Let tomorrow take care of itself.  And like work, let my supervisor at Lamb Family Industries, LP (Lori) know what I'm not doing so she can be aware of it, or prioritize it higher for me so that it gets done.

10. Sleepiness - We're all tired, whether or not we want to admit it.

Tactic/response: Naps for the kids, quiet time for the adults. Earlier bed time if possible. No screens close to bedtime for me. Breathe-right strip for me. Latest possible wake-up alarm for me. Stuff prepped the night before to make the morning go smoothly.

The irony is that by the time I'm done with this, it's almost 3. The day is (sort of) almost over. I'll do some chores and poassibly some decluttering (and some finance work), I won't look at my work email, we'll eat dinner on the early side around 5, we'll get the little ones off to bed (can't be too much earlier due to the timing of medicines), and then I'll have some quiet time while Lori showers, and then she and I will watch some TV while we exercise. It's almost too late to have a whole bunch of issues that I shouldn't have.

So yay. Best of all, I'm feeling really good. Just feeling good despite the lack of sleep and feeling even better because I've had a chance to think about all the ways I let it impact me and know that I can overcome these, and even better to think of the example of the last few days, how much better I've felt, and know that so much of this is simply a result of not enough sleep. (insert inspirational music here)

Wow, didn't even talk about dieting or fear of the HOA or caffeine jitters or complaining about church or fear of another night of bad sleep or not reading as much as I'd like or or or or or or.  But you know what?  I feel darn good.  January has been a really good month so far and I really feel like I've grown a learned a lot about myself and uncovered some great new coping mechanisms lately and also that some of the things that I thought just were were in fact environmental.

Controllable, addressable, predictable, avoidable, mitigatable.

And I think taking the time to do these long-form ramblings/processing have been part of the cure.  So really appreciating Lindsey and Katrina (do you really want me to refer to you two as "Latrina"?!?!) for prodding me into getting back to posting.  There's still some more things I need to shed if I want to spend time posting *and* simplify, but I'm working on it.

And I'm happy.  I've crossed over some bridge I didn't know existed.  I like it better on this side.

Day 13 of January Blog a Day.

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