An Affirmation of Me

I wrote this on September 11, 2011, over on Google Plus, where I’ve been spending a lot of time lately. But I’m rather postworthy over there, so I wanted to have a copy over here, too.

It started out just as a short summary in reflection. I didn’t want to post about my memories from a decade ago, even though I’d seen several by friends of mine. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my counselor over the past nearly two years, and much of that work is reflected in my words. So, without further ado:

A decade ago I wouldn’t have believed that I’d be living in the DC area, single, loving my job helping people find healthy, natural food and supplies for their pets. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and said goodbye to some people who weren’t good for me.

I’m a different person, in many ways, but at the core, I’m still me. Passionate about animal rights & equality for all people, politically liberal, and absolutely devoted to my family and friends.

Oh, and I tend to wave my geek flag a bit higher these days, because I’m less concerned (though not completely immune) to what others think about me. I love being a part of the SCA community, and after playing in the Midrealm and Atlantia since 1995, finally went to my first Pennsic this year! How long until Pennsic XVI?

I can be deliriously happy spending hours petting yarn and natural fibers. I’m proficient at spinning and crochet, and find both of them soothing to my soul. I also know there is much still to learn about both of these crafts, and enjoy challenging myself to try new techniques.

I am still humbled when I think about the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, and exhilarated that I was able to participate, after reading about the traveling exhibit for years in magazines and websites. My name was posted on the wall of the Museum of Natural History as a contributor, and that is amazing to me. I feel so fortunate that I was able to share that experience with my parents.

I’m still often blunt when I state my opinions, and I don’t tolerate fools well, nor people who don’t own their own actions. I know that I’m flawed, as we all are, and no one likes admitting their mistakes, but we are each responsible for the decisions that we make, and I expect that from everyone.

I’ve been going to a counselor for nearly 2 years, since shortly after I was assaulted by a former roommate. I’m learning to process my feelings, and not be as reactionary in difficult situations. I’m also regaining some of the confidence that was shattered as a result of that and a previous assault (while I was in college). I know that these situations have affected my trust in others, and likely will for some time.

I know what I like, and what I don’t, and I know that I don’t need someone to complete me. I’d like to find someone to travel beside, but I’m willing to go it alone until we find one another, because I’m awesome, and I know I’m worth the wait.

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On social contracts…

I am growing to hate the casual invite, or “Hey, we should do something on day X.” Because lately, whenever someone suggests it, and I agree, in my mind, it becomes a thing, and I look forward to it. And then it doesn’t happen. Twice in the past week.

And because I’m feeling lonely, it feeds my feeling (despite logically knowing that it’s not true) that, aside from my family, no one would really notice if I were gone. I mean sure, there’d be an initial “Oh, we have to fill this work/housing slot” … but after that? My inner mean girl (who I decided awhile back should be named IMoGene – see what I did there?) goes onto a repeat cycle that since I no longer have an inner circle, people would just go along as they do most days, and not even think about the fact that they haven’t heard from me.

I’m not feeling suicidal. I don’t want to do harm to myself.

But I know these feelings aren’t good, and I need to get it outside of myself, at least a little.

I’m really not looking for responses on here. My social media cred is okay.

It’s my unplugged self that’s feeling unloved.

So if you feel moved to do something, invest some real time in me.

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On Not Doing

Disclosure: I have a ton of stuff not packed. We have a yard sale Saturday, and I’ve not priced things. I copped out and made a price list for the major items.

Sunday I’m borrowing my new landlord’s trailer and a truck, and will be moving at least my furniture to the new place. There’s still stuff ON my bookcases. But, since it looks like I’ll be doing it myself, I can just dismantle the bed, carry it out, then empty the bookcases onto the floor where the bed currently takes up most of this room.

I woke up early this morning, but have I done anything productive but walk the dog? No. I thought about loading up my car & taking stuff up to the new place… but it’s 45 minutes each way, and my little Saturn doesn’t hold much, so it seems inefficient.

I’ve been crying the past few days, feeling very much alone. I’m sure it’s all related – stress about the move, etc.

I’ll get it all done. Somehow. The yard sale won’t be as organized, because every time I’ve thought about pricing all the stuff I’m offering up, I get knots in my stomach, and do something else instead. So it’ll be a bit more stressful on the day. But I’ll get through it.

And the move won’t be pretty, but it will get done.

And once it’s done, maybe the knots in my stomach will subside.

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Things have been a bit crazy in my life recently, but I think I have a direction… which is comforting (until the wind changes its mind). For the past few months I’d hoped that we’d find people to move into the townhouse, and I’d continue living pretty much the same way, though perhaps with less drama as the current lease ends and a new one begins. However, a few weeks ago I finally admitted to myself that we hadn’t been able to find anyone, and it was time to consider moving.

Moving. Ugh. What stress even thinking the word creates. I can feel my shoulders tense whenever I think about it. I know, no one enjoys moving, or at least, no one I know does…

So we gave notice to the leasing office, and I starting browsing Craigslist. Sent emails, made phonecalls… I was amazed how many people who’d posted that they were looking to rent never bothered to respond to my messages. A few did respond, and I visited one house, that I almost immediately felt was not a good fit – a very nice house, and the owner seemed nice. Just, not right for me.

Then, shortly before going to work one day, I clicked over to the listings, and there was a new one, and it sounded perfect. A large room in a house in the country, pet friendly, woods to explore… I emailed & called. Exchanged information with the owner, made an appointment to see the place (and took my dog, so he could see that she’s not scary or aggressive – as usual she won him over – I’m so fortunate to have an absolute peach of a dog). A few days later he offered me the room. I put down a deposit, and I’ll start moving things in next month.

Here’s the odd thing. The day I paid the deposit, an SCA acquaintance asked if I was still looking for a roommate… Today, another SCAdian told me she was looking for a place … I felt a twinge of regret, because not moving is in some ways so much easier than moving. But rent would have gone up with the new lease here, and the new place is significantly cheaper, plus the acreage — it’s to die for. Yes, it would have been cool to have an SCA house… but SCA is a bit of an escape for me, and what if I had difficulties with the SCA roommates? That would have caused tension in my escape, my alternate family… As I said, the two women are acquaintances, I know very little about them & their habits. I know one better than the other, because we’ve followed each other on LJ for awhile…

I miss my SCA household. I’m the only one in this kingdom, everyone else is back in the Midrealm. R was in the household, but left it after she assaulted me. Which makes sense, because I’m one of the heads of house, so that would’ve been extremely awkward. The other two HoH aren’t active in the SCA anymore. I admit, I’m a sucker for structure. I like rules, guidelines, etc., and I’d wanted more put into place when we started the household. But it didn’t happen. I’d love to add some now, but I think I’d get resistance from some of the current members. I’d like to grow the household, but I don’t want to just add people because I’m lonely… I created a group on FB, and we’ve had some household chatter, which is a slight improvement, but few of the members bother responding when a question is asked (by me, another HOH, or anyone else). Herding cats, to beat a phrase into the ground… I feel like our household is stagnant, and a bit of a joke. I don’t feel like we’re functioning, that we serve a purpose, other than a loose, occasionally social, group of people. And yes, that’s how it started, but there was certainly talk of being not just social, but also promoting A&S, and service… Unfortunately, as SCA households are not official parts of the SCA, there aren’t guidelines in running one. It’s pretty much do as you & your group want to do. While I’m not wanting us to be one of the very large households, I want there to be some sort of direction, a plan… We had some growing pains at first, invited people in too quickly, without ensuring that they were a good fit with our group. I want to take steps to reduce the chance of that happening again. One of our members suggested that each local “chapter” have autonomy to add new members… I suggested that I’d still like to hear a bit about potential new members, before they’re added. It’s an odd position, being one of 3 HOHs, and the only one actively in the SCA. It’s not like a job, where I’m the boss, and it’s my way or the highway…

I’ve considered recommending the household be dissolved. Stop using the device designed by the 3rd HOH, who doesn’t even communicate with the rest of us anymore, and go our separate ways… I know some of the main group would continue to hang together, and I’m okay with that, but I don’t feel like we’re a household, so it feels wrong to say we are, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know if it should be fixed. But I also don’t know if it’s my place to try and fix things… There’s definitely some guilt/resentment, because I left, and it bugs me that they all still have each other. It’s not as if I want to salt the earth, and leave a smoking hole behind me… But when I can’t even get people to respond to questions such as “What would you like to see happen with the household?” … I kind of feel like if they can’t be bothered to answer something like that, why are they even still identifying as part of the group? This goes back to feeling like we’re a bit of a joke. Some other households in the shire are well established, and well respected in the region, and perhaps the kingdom. Yes, that takes time, but it also takes doing things, making a name for the household… And it doesn’t feel like we’ve done anything.

So, moving. And preparing for a yard sale. The current roommates & I, plus some friends. A multi-person, being held in an empty lot, with chair massages & someone selling handmade jewelry… it’s practically a mini street festival! We’re praying that the weather gods smile upon us.

My mom was sad that I’m not moving back to Indiana. I won’t lie, there’s part of me that wants to. But more of me wants to stay in NoVa, working where I am, making a place for myself, here. I miss my friends in the Midwest, but I don’t want to go back. I’m tired of starting over. I’m happy with my SCA barony, I’m looking forward to the new residence, and I’m thrilled that moving out of the townhouse means leaving a place that holds a lot of memories of R and J, two people who made my last 2 years very painful. They chose this townhouse, and my fear of change kept me here.

In 52 days, I will be out of this house. A&G are moving to PA, C is in Canada. I’ll have new housemates, but the freedom to go outside & escape into nature if they’re bugging me. And the house is SO much larger, we won’t be on top of each other — I won’t be directly under the kitchen/living room area, hearing conversations whether I want to or not. I won’t have a furnace/ac unit kicking on every 45 minutes or so – I’m so looking forward to the quiet.

There will be 2 boys in the house, but again, it’s a large place, and if I need space, more than I can walk away from, I have a car. Plus, I’m fairly certain the kids have been told not to bother the tenants. At least not if said tenants are in their own rooms.

Speaking of furnace fan thingy… it just kicked on again. And I’m going to sign off, to try & sleep, since I work tomorrow.

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no longer ill, but ill at ease

I’ve been in a crappy mood lately. I’m tired of being alone, but the thought of trolling the bars or similar is not only distasteful, it gives me a slight case of anxiety.

I miss college, where there was ample opportunity to meet people, hang out, etc., often without spending much money. I don’t want to /be/ in school again, but I’d love a taste of that atmosphere.

Something other than my current life, which is dead boring. Even when I have opportunities to hang out w/ people lately (SCA meeting or event, spinning get-together), I’ve balked. It doesn’t make sense. They’re low-key hang with people, talk about things you like… And something has been holding me back.

I don’t think it’s healthy. At least I’ll have something to bring up at my counselor session. Not that we have trouble coming up with topics, truth be told.

Argh. I feel like I’m talking cliches, or just feeling sorry for myself. I wouldn’t want to read this blog.

I’m posting it anyway. Not because I want responses with empathy, but because it’s being honest. This is what is going on with me right now.

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insert whiny sick post here…

It’s not like I’ve been sick for that long. I’m in my 2nd day of it, today was worse than yesterday. I’ve watched several tv shows on Hulu, read blog entries, browsed Facebook … and I’m bored. And whenever I think of crocheting or spinning, it feels like too much effort. Being sick sucks.

Tomorrow I need to go back to work. Likely a short shift. I haven’t unburied my car from the snow.

My cats have been loving the extra cuddle time, and get annoyed whenever I move.

My head is pounding, my sinuses are draining nastiness.

I miss my Mom.

Being alone when you’re sick? Makes it that much worse.

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Worky thoughts

As an assistant manager with a small business, a relatively young company that is in a period of rapid growth (pet related businesses are faring better than many others in this economy), I try to keep in mind what I’ve learned, good and bad, from my past supervisors, when I’m training and working with our part-time staff. Building a great team that cares about your company like you do, and can keep things running while you’re away, takes time, and effort. There are many ways to invest in those members of your staff that have potential to grow with the company. Here are a few:

Respect – Earn it, show it. I’ve had bosses in the past that expected it, but undermined me in front of my coworkers or others. My morale suffered, as did my dedication to the job. Work with your staff in several aspects of the job, rather than directing them to do certain tasks. Of course there will be times that you will need to take care of other projects, but your staff will be more willing to pitch in when they know that you are willing to do the less desirable tasks.

Accountability – If you, as a manager, make a promise to your staff, follow through. Or take the time to explain why you weren’t able to do so.

Listen – I’m serious, really listen. There’s nothing that kills morale like feeling that you, as an individual, aren’t a valued member of the team. That your opinions don’t matter, any person could easily replace you, and your ideas for improvement are a waste of management’s time. So when someone presents you with an idea, give honest feedback. If you can’t respond immediately, schedule a time to get back with them, because you may have some time-sensitive things on your plate. And follow through. If you decide to go a different direction, explain why, and thank them for their contribution. Not every idea will be implemented, but if your staff feels like they can come to you with suggestions and you will consider them, they will feel invested in the company, and work harder for you.

Delegate – While sometimes it would be faster to just do some tasks yourself, rather than taking the time to show someone else, and be there for them to answer questions as they get used to performing these tasks, in the long run you not only are developing future managers, you are freeing yourself up to take care of other tasks, that may be more sensitive. Also, you’re showing your staff that you believe in their abilities, and this will pay off in the long run.

Be available – You can’t be there open to close every day, and for everyone’s sanity, it’s best if you can get away & have a life. But discuss with your staff when and how it’s appropriate to contact you when you are away, and who else they can contact in your absence. Respond to voicemails and emails in a timely manner. Make time to check in with your staff when you are there, ask for feedback, and how they feel things are going. They may not open up, but they will appreciate that you took the time to ask.

Choice – If there are multiple projects to be accomplished, rather than deciding who, when and how they should be done, consider asking your staff to choose. You may discover where they excel (or need more assistance), and most people like having some control over their work life.

Standards – Be sure that every member of your staff that is at the same level is held to the same standard. If some people are pulling the weight while others drift, tension will develop. You may wish to have periodic evaluations. This is an excellent opportunity to sit down with each staff member to discuss your and their thoughts on their development. You can review past goals, set goals for the next time frame, and pinpoint any potential issues. This also provides a record, if the issues become such that you are considering termination.

Structure – Do you have an employee or policy manual? Do your staff know how to react when customers are being difficult, or what to do in an emergency? Keep in mind that your sense of what is right and obvious has been colored by your life experiences, and your staff may not reach the same conclusions. Having a set of guidelines for everyone to follow ensures that your team is going in the same direction, providing a consistent product, and acting in a professional manner.

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s enough (I think) to chew on for a bit.

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