Can a gal get a break, please? (with bonus thoughts about “the new normal”)

Yes, yes she can. (fingers crossed, knock wood, etc.)

grumpy cat feels stress

Grumpy Cat understands me

Physically, emotionally and psychologically, it has been a rough several months.  We’ve handled my son starting high school (and all that goes along with that transition), my daughter in her junior year (her hardest) and the continuing circus of working at an understaffed, overbusy ad agency. I thought that was stressful.

Then shit got real.

We went to acute stress action phase when my mother-in-law started to decline and ultimately entered hospice care this past March. In our home. It was difficult, rewarding, intrusive, beautiful – all those adjectives and more. It was also a lot of stress layered on top our already packed lives.  And more so, for my husband. Dianne passed peacefully on May 16.

With her passing came all of the activities that follow a death: the paperwork, the cleaning out and sorting of a lifetime accumulation of stuff. Stuff that needed to be sorted, wrapped, boxed, transported, donated or tossed. Mike’s sister came to town and is, thankfully, a mofo packing machine and helped make quick work of it all. (Left to our own devices, Mike and I would still be there, looking at photos and wondering what to do with the china.)

No sooner was that done then our son was hospitalized. Stress, doctors, phone calls, worry and more.  He’s home now and doing better but there’s a bit of a journey there yet to come.

And now it’s summer. Kids out of school, things slow down, leisurely evenings and weekends, right?  Nope. Just as I’m vowing to stop with the crazy hours at the office for a while, things go nuts there.  Not sure why but the workload is worse than ever right now. Seems every client we currently work with wants to start something new right now, every other client wants to consider it and new business opportunities are clamoring.  Now I am not one to be sorry we have so many opportunities but really – all at once? I blame the NSA and Supermoon.  In that order.

This past Friday morning we woke up to find AbbieCat, my MIL’s kitty, had passed in her sleep during the night. This was not a huge surprise – she was 16, overweight, with dodgy kidneys to boot – but we really had hoped to have her longer. I think she just got sad that her person was gone.

What surprised me most about this was my lack of real reaction. Normally the loss of a loved pet is very traumatic for me. Granted, this was not my cat but I knew Abbie well; she’d stayed with us many times over the years, whenever Dianne visited. I had some attachment here.  It isn’t that I don’t care. Rather, it’s I don’t have time to care right now. With all of the balls in the air and plates spinning, this registered just a bit of a wobble.

Earlier this week, while viewing yet another webinar titled “______: The New Normal”, my coworkers and I spent more time joking about how everything is “The New Normal” these days.  Mobile is Everywhere: The New Normal!  Brands Getting Social: The New Normal! It’s replaced “Synergy” and “Paradigm” as the POV presentation buzz-phrase of choice. It’s old, trite and laughable.

angry orange cat swimming

ignore the stress. just keep swimming, cat.

BUT.  What if this hyper-stressed existence I’ve been leading is actually my New Normal? Is that why losing that sweet ol’ kitty didn’t even ruffle my feathers? I honestly was more sad for my husband and kids than feeling anything resembling a feeling myself.  I noted she was gone, hugged my husband, gave her some pets and headed off to work and into a crazy calendar of meetings. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I mentioned it to a friend at work and she inquired how I was doing? Doing? Should I be doing something? Feeling something?  Apparently yes.

So here’s the thing. I can’t do anything about workload right now. It is what it is and will be what it is until it isn’t.  I can handle it or I can go elsewhere (not that it doesn’t enter my mind sometimes).  What I can do is take better advantage of the time I am off. Time to decompress, time to just relax. Not quite sure how that’s going to happen just yet but it’s worth a shot. And I have Thursday and Friday off next week. That break this gal is going to take!

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Lest we forget, it’s Grumpy Cat’s first birthday.

photo of grumpy cat with mr. rogers

Awwww

In the midst of all the sturm und drang going on in our lives right now, it’s good to take a moment and consider the little things. It’s Grumpy Cat’s birthday today. This feline phenom is only a year old – pretty young to have conquered the Interwebs. There’s a ton of images of the cranky kitty out there but this one is my favorite – probably because it’s the only one with a happy ending.

The one where the blogger opines about being home sick for a week

Yeah, so the cold I felt coming on Monday afternoon – sore, scratchy throat, febrile-iousness, etc. – turned into a lovely case of pneumonia by Wednesday morning.  Doctors orders had me home in bed for the rest of the week. Who am I to argue with a medical professional, after all? So off to bed I went, with a Z-pack, inhaler, course of steroids, box of kleenex, plenty of fluids and a bottle of cough syrup at hand. While not exactly consumptive (or missing teeth, hair, dignity or clutching an Oscar), I may or may not have hummed a few bars of “I Dreamed a Dream” under my breath, just to milk things a bit.  At any rate, here’s a few thoughts that floated briefly through my mind during my time at home:

Grumpy-Cat-Le-Miserable

…There’s a lot of crap on daytime TV.  A lot of crap.  I chose mostly to switch on IFC or the Sundance Channel and watch whatever movies wandered by.  Of note: “Monsoon Wedding”, “The Descendants” and “The Station Agent” are wonderful when stuck at home with limited mental capacity (fever and codeine cough syrup, ahem!).  Interesting stories, beautifully shot and well-acted. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is not quite the light, sick-at-home viewing that one might want.  Incidentally, Peter Dinklage was quite hot in The Station Agent – way more than you might think watching him in Game of Thrones.

cats
…Cats take advantage of people sick in bed.  I couldn’t shake the Burmese no matter what I did, although she would leap over to the edge of the bed and look at me with disgust if I had a coughing fit.  She hates having her beauty sleep interrupted, apparently. Quite often, I’d have both felines on the bed, albeit with a DMZ pillow or ridge of blanket between the two. This is mostly for the brown cat’s peace of mind; the orange cat couldn’t give a shit.
…By about the third day, a certain degree of lassitude creeps into your general psyche.  I stopped checking email quite so often – even work email – and didn’t feel a need to respond to much.  I had brief bursts of energy and focus, especially in the hour or so after taking the prednisone, where I could get a few emails answered or, on one afternoon, a short presentation written but for the most part, languor was the order of the day.
…Starve a cold, feed a fever, stuff pneumonia with carbs.  Just sayin’

Truth be told, this past week was one of the nicer breaks I’ve ever had.  The last few months have been a complete crazy-making rush of too much work with too few hands, leading to 65+ hour weeks.  At one point, my boss said I was averaging 13.5 hours a day.  This on top of the usual level of family activities and needs.  All of this leaving me feeling So. Much. Stress. and guilt for not doing enough with my family – kids, house, husband – that have definitely left me in a less-than-hardy place.  In other words, I think I wore myself out.  Having this past week where I really had no choice but to stay in bed and read or watch movies, all while being kept company with a kitty or two, was – sorry – just what the doctor ordered for me.  I feel rested.  And that’s saying a lot.  It’s going to take a while to get my energy back – I have no doubt that Monday is going to kick my ass – but I believe that having this week to just turn my head and body off for a time was needed and will help me get back at it with a renewed spirit.  Or at least a slightly less exhausted one.

Tom Hanks begins to type

Oh boy! Back to work I go!

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