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Stress Management

I am down to an annual post, it appears, to who knows. I continue to keep the blog hidden while I pursue politics, or are politics pursuing me. I came to the blog looking to see if I had written on stress management. I found some stuff on vicarious trauma versus burnout but not quite usable for general staff meeting. Certainly stress management is my life now, finding a way to cope with all of the competing pressures of a hard job with a lot of responsibility, trying to do right for my fair city, keeping the lawn mowed and the dog walked and all of that. I continue to be a more disciplined harder working version of myself. I also allow myself a little breathing space. Today not much work got done, though I did show up and respond to what is in front of me. I did work on a handout for my training on stress management this week. Here is what I got:

Stress Management:

Stress really refers to Strain, the tendency to warp under pressure. Management implies an ongoing process of adjustments versus something that can be eliminated.

Stress is a chronic activation of our fight/flight/freeze response. It is biologically akin to anxiety (fear) and anger. High levels of coritisol are linked to an array of negative health outcomes. Stress Management involves identifying and reducing stressors or adjusting our thoughts, beliefs and actions to better manage the stressors in our life.

4 “A”s of Change

  1. Awareness
  2. Assessment
  3. Action
  4. Accountability

 

A positive overall orientation to life is protective against stress. It is called a Philosophy of Life. We have the ability to identify and alter our beliefs in ways that have large impacts on our life outcomes. The story we tell ourselves, who we are and why we are here, provide meaning and an overall organization to our lives.

 

Our natural state of being is one of relaxation. Noticing we have allowed tension to accumulate allows us to deal with it. Promoting an attitude of relaxation is easier then eliminating stress. We cannot make ourselves stop being tense but we very much can allow ourselves to relax. This process of allowing is called Passive Volition.

 

 

Categories: health, work

the more you do the harder it is to sleep

July 19, 2012 1 comment

Its been a weird week here at Leslie Lane. City Council has slowed a bit and our meetings have been getting out at 9ish. There were some appointments to boards and commissions and I had done a bit of politicking and wrestling with all of the issues with their various players and demands on information processing and decision making it leaves me more then a bit spun when I get home. The last 2 meetings I haven’t had dinner before because of a big lunch and rushed for time so I’ve stopped at Taco Bell on the way home. Not a good habit to get into, I’m sure the soda is not helping the can’t sleep after Council phenomenon.

So didn’t really sleep Monday night, made it through a bustling and involved Tuesday. My Co-Occurring Disorders groups have gone up to another level. Its close to the only clinical thing I do and the clients treasure it because its the only time we get to interact and I have been a tour de’ force of random facts, inspiration, and some critical knowledge on getting better. Its been very engaging and very fun and was again this week.

I only had a 1/2 hour after work before my next thing but came home and Flow had made a nice dinner, ham and mashed potatoes with a pineapple/cranberry compote. Quite delish and very much appreciated. I ate that and rode my bike (I am still an every day bicycle commuter though I am close to getting Dad’s truck out of probate) over to Lange Middle School and met with a homeowner’s association. I was only marginally sweaty for day 25 of 90 plus temps (the record is 31 and we are going to crush it in the worst drought of my lifetime). I introduced myself and fielded questions. It was an older crowd and I am sideways to most of them with our job creation scheme that involves a blight decree of their really nice neighborhood and my unabashed support of changing the trash to a roll cart system. But I explained my rationale and listened and we had a very nice dialogue and I remembered why I got into politics and it was fun.

I got home and went upstairs laid down to read a comic book (early 80s MoonKnight) read a page and passed out. I overslept the next morning which was today. I had an all staff training on suicide prevention which went very well. This is how the universe watches out for me. I have done these the last few years and have asked around on a fresh angle with no response. I come home from Taco Bell on Monday and there is a talking head on TV talking in depth about suicide prevention. Flow has a little job teaching suicide prevention classes and had all the materials. I bummed her QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) booklet and taught out of that and our newest policies. I also told the story of the Golden Gate Bridge I had heard just as I walked in the door. 1,400 people have jumped off the bridge with 14 survivors. A pretty lethal attempt and survivor interviews gives us a little insight into “completers” a group we know little about. 13 changed their mind about dying immediately after jumping. It demonstrates the ambivalence of suicidal folk. I didn’t share the 14th jumped again.

After work today I was pretty cashed. Had leftovers, just as yummy and got caught up on my email correspondence, most of it. I may answer one of my troubling emails on that committee thing. I like time stamps of 2:22 am and such and I’m still a little wired. Putting it down on virtual paper helps me get rid of the stuff and I might get some more winks tonight. My laptop gave me the low battery warning and it does not fuck around. It will shut down and I will lose my shit. It feels good to swear, between work and politics I self censor constantly.

So went to bed early and woke from a complex dream. I had gotten a new apartment and married the co-worker I have a crush on but she was on vacation for a coupe of weeks and sometimes morphed into my ex-wife. I was trying to settle in, make plans with friends but managed to get nothing done beyond blow someone off. She got home and I had forgotten about it had other plans I’d blown and was generally befuddled. We lay down in bed, had our first chaste kiss and then I needed to get something out of another room which was a long slow muddle in the dark and down some stairs I had  forgot about. I had to be quiet as another co-worker lived next door and he has mentioned “sleep is hard to come by” for him. I ran into a female friend and we were making out until I remembered I had a wife in bed in the other room which is when I woke up. Weird huh? Well I’m getting low battery warnings better put this up. Good night faithful reader.

NA step 2 part 2

Hmmm, just tried to link to the cyber recovery page after writing a little intro but it just cancelled out my post. Dang. Well this is part of a project to translate the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous into simple concrete English with all hearing references removed. I hope to finish by Sunday in spite of being horridly busy.

http://www.cyberrecovery.net/NA/StepTwo.html OK, there’s the link, it came up when I was trying to paste in the actual language of the step. Let me try that again.

“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Some people say church is for people are afraid of Hell. Knowing God is for people whose life has been Hell. Faith is the gift we get for accepting the truth. If the second step is hard we should look at what we think is important or valuable. If we feel we are not getting important stuff or it doesn’t work well we should change. We want to change. Step 2 is about finding and using extra power to change. Believing is knowing what we think is important and what we hate. Believing helps us get what we want in the future. Being weak and feeling trapped makes us value not feeling pain. When we start to love and do God’s will we can still have bad things happen because what we think is valuable hasn’t changed yet. Changing what we think is right as God changes our life helps us “come to believe”.

One way to figure out what we really want is to put in words what we want in the future. It helps to believe in what will help us get what we really want. When we know the future can be good without limit it changes how we see. Many people try to clearly remember what they wanted out of life in early recovery. Then when it happens we will be happy. As we grow in recovery new dreams come. When we tell these dreams to others in recovery we grow and become stronger. Sometimes our dreams help other people instead of us.

We see more when we learn from what others have done. We become more free and helpful to others when we train, study, and work on what we are learning. A part of changing is enjoying how we have changed and seeing it help others. It helps when we can Give it up to God when we believe God can’t help us enough. The belief that God can’t help us is old or not thought out or only a piece of the truth. Most of us are surprised we can change what we believe about God. D0ing drugs hurt us more then health and legal problems but have hurt the way we think. If you put in wrong thoughts you get out wrong thoughts and actions. Because we were afraid we did not slow down and think clearly. We get used to thining wrongly and believing bad things will happen.

When we did drugs we thought the world was bad and we continue to think that. Healthy relationships are an important part of life. Being healthy means we have healthy places to go, healthy things in our life, and healthy people to be around. As we change we can feel weird as we change how we deal with people. Just because something feels uncomfortable doesn’t mean its wrong. We have to ask other people in recovery about stuff that feels uncomfortable. We feel uncomfortable as we change how we look at the world but haven’t gotten used to it yet. If we are sensitive and respectful to God we can learn to see things in a new way. We stop having beliefs that are to small to work.

Sometimes we make stuff by really believing things we knew were true but we couldn’t really believe. Addicts are sensitive to the truth even when they deny it or hide from it. Growing God shows us that we make ourselves and how we make ourselves affects other people. Staying close to God keeps us in our new beliefs. Our beliefs get stronger and more a part of us.

Things that don’t work for us take time to get rid of but beliefs won’t change by themselves. Its easier to go looking for a belief we may have been interested in for a while. We can try to find something that we feel good about and try to learn more about it. Many people find that what they believed as children will work now. Being confused by using drugs might have kept our beliefs from working good. Our new beliefs are not only easier but work better and we get more of what we want. The need for beliefs that work is stronger then being afraid. Once we belief this step it will stick with us and we won’t have to go back and do it again. Thinking about stuff all the time was a way we used to get stuff we thought we wanted. We had problems because we needed so much. Thinking about drugs all the time was about feelings and not meeting our needs. People could see we were crazy. Every time we give up an old fear our freedom and responsibility increase. As we give up our old fears our faith grows. Faith gives us more energy and allows us to do more with what we have. We are clear headed and relaxed.

Fear is false beliefs that we think are real and it is important to addicts. Fear keeps us from doing stuff that hurts us or makes our lives worse. When we are sane fear keeps us in a place where we are comfortable and our feelings won’t get hurt. When we were addicts much of what we believed was crazy. In other areas some things we think we know are not true but it doesn’t matter. Many things are in the middle and sometimes it matters if we are right. Figuring out what is true or not is a lot of work that we have to do every day. Freedom in recovery is comparing what we get to what we lost from being an addict. The longer we are clean the more important the truth is and that is why we keep going to meetings and working the steps. When we were using drugs we were afraid of getting caught and we may have continued to be afraid in early recovery. Maybe our real secret was we built our own cage out of fear? We replace fear with faith. We start to work the steps and we learn to feel pain without using drugs. When we remember the old craziness we learn to face the truth and get better.

Well that’s about all I have this afternoon. Looks like I won’t finish step 2 this week. I will try to get it done on my vacation. I am looking forward to not being maddeningly busy all the time. The only reason I could do this is I am supposed to be doing something else and I’m not. I’ve lost a little focus with a little “short term ego depletion” from all the challenging stuff I’ve been doing.

Return to Valleyview

If I am posting it must be insomnia. They’re go the 2:00 am Baptist bells, two minutes late, like clockwork. It seems somehow unBabtist to be two minutes late, two minutes early maybe. But these aren’t your parents Baptists, judgmental and strident, but bland with projection screen throwing up bland hymns. Yawn. A little of that and I could sleep. Instead I have Organic NightyNight tea, still to hot to drink. And blogging my thoughts. See if I get them out of my head to make room for sleep to come in.

I didn’t end up calling in sick the day after I was up posting in the middle of the night. I did sleep in and take some time to wake up. Got my mumps vaccine. 43 years old without getting it, not to bad. The vaccine used to only last 7 years so I never got it when it became available. Now with a booster it lasts your whole life so it makes sense. I didn’t want to kick that can down the road when I would be even older when my immunity failed.

Today started early. I had to get going early and take Fido to a dog park friend’s house to spend the day with Ru the Standard Poodle who likes to hump. I think all poodles do. Fido likes him though, he’s pretty tolerant of such things. He’s easy going to a fault. I had to get there early so Cindy could get to her exercise class but she skipped it to have coffee with me anyway. I brought her some of the dark roast Sumatran I had made. It was good. Best of the lot at its peak this morning. She had broken out the French press for the occasion. I was a little sorry to have given it all away. I roasted a light roast Rwandan tonight so I’ve got something to look forward to. Cindy was dog sitting for a spastic little dog. He humped Fido too.

Tea’s still to hot to drink, had a sip anyways. I came home and dealt with returning some of the phone calls I needed to make. I started to write most but some is more accurate. I still owe my friend Amy and brother Bob a call. Still have an email to family to write as well. I called and did an interview on crime in the second ward with the Trib political paper. He had a 12:00 deadline but it wasn’t in the paper tonight. Maybe tomorrow. That Friday night to Saturday morning is a compressed news cycle. Saturday would be better anyway. It helps door knocking to have been on the paper that day, though you pretty much need to be on the front page and/or have a big picture if you want to get into people’s consciousness. My doors tonight I’d sent them 2 pieces of mail, been in the paper twice a week for a month, and had already knocked on their doors before and no one knew who I was.

Made an appearance at work, mostly just checking email and messages and off to Uprise to meet with the Fire Department Association president. He was meeting with the incumbent from another ward but I got to update Scott, an early supporter who owns an ice cream shop downtown and touch base about not having an event at his place. To much to do not enough time. Its hard to beat doors for voter candidate as far as efficient use of time.

I met with the Fireman, didn’t get endorsed but got a donation and the promise not to be organized against. Still a victory. They don’t want their endorsement to be meaningless and their candidate got beat last time. Drove down to Jefferson City for a meeting of the Missouri Cadre for Co-Occurring Excellence. Been a minute since I’d seen those peeps. I was late because of the fireman thing. We’re planning a peer review process in conjunction with the state. Promising. I picked up a committee assignment again and bragged up my campaign. They’re very proud and miss me on facebook. Nine days and I’m back.

Tea’s yummy. I put in my Michigan honey, the honey of my youth. Sleepy now, but not enough. I drove back to town and caught a couple hours in the office. Not real productive, tired and mind racing. Picked up Fido, he’d had fun and sacked out early and didn’t even get out of bed when I got up to blog so he had a good day. I’ll do it again next week.

Did doors with Ann. Drank the last of the Sumatran dark roast. It threatened rain and had a whole street of no one at home. I wondered if there was a tornado warning and everyone was huddled in their basement. Got a couple signs on the next street. “Bitchin'” a young woman said after I gave her my spiel. The listening tour is over, I’ve been to all 13 precincts and asked what was their concerns. Now I’m pitching myself. Starting back where I started so long ago was interesting. I am a different person. I have a comprehensive knowledge of the neighborhood and its issues, a confidence and a huge array of talking points.

Getting back my old walk sheets for my turf tomorrow. Will be nice to have my notes when I follow up with people for a second time. Even just to know if I talked with them before or not. Stopped by Jeff’s when it started raining. Did a couple houses in the rain but then my sheets got damp and its no fun any more. Got a better tour of his awesome house. Built in 1906 by a biologist who testified in the Scopes trial. Its a 3 story built of concrete forms 1′ x 1′ x 2′ with rock facing on one side. He has a pond with frogs and his fruit trees are in bloom. Very lovely.

Gave me the night of, and I do what my advisers tell me. That was a good strategy. We’ve had remarkably smooth sailing.Allowed me to do dishes and clean my kitchen. I’d had ants, so it needed to be done. No more stacking up dishes for days. Flow has a scrubber that holds dish soap and will start washing them as I go. Ants are God’s way of telling you you are a slob.

Made some fried rice. Was going to do salmon patties but had leftover rice to eat from Fido’s party. Waste not want not, Grandma Trapp always said. Watched a little news and went to bed. Now its time to try that again. A little sleepy and some Spiderman ought to do the trick. I’m down to the Annuals so soon there will be no more. I also finished The Order of Things, only took me 7 years. Have to pick  a new book out. Maybe finish that book on the origins of intelligence I borrowed from John in the Spring. I could return it on my cross country odyssey.

Hope to mow, do a load of laundry, straighten the house, do an interview with a Missourian editoraiist. He writes on issues of religious liberty (the freedom from not freedom to do perspective [hope he’s going to slam my stridently Catholic opponent who criticized Catholic politicians who don’t act like Catholics claiming they’re following the will of their constituents] all before 10 when Vicki comes over. I have a public radio interview at 10:30, oh and I’ll need a shower. Seems ridiculous when I write it all down but you never know. Oh, and I saw a rainbow.

i only post when i can’t sleep

Another sleepless night. Made me a cup of Organic Nighty Night. Its been a while and if I have to I will call in sick tomorrow. There’s nothing that pressing on my schedule. It was a pretty exciting day on the campaign trail and that has my mind buzzing and sleep elusive. Less then 2 weeks to go to the election, pretty exciting.

Today I did a training for work on integrating primary health care into the substance abuse treatment that we do. I had my “A” game today and actually had some time at work to prepare the training. I gave a little background and context in regards to health care reform and why it makes since that we tackle the issue, as substance abuse counselors we are the motivational enhancement experts and we need to tackle chronic disease management or our clients are going to die. In Missouri if you have a mental illness you die on average 25 years younger then average. That’s why we don’t have many elderly clients, they’re all dead.

I opened with Health Literacy. I wrote a Health Literate handout on the subject after looking exhaustively for a health literate version of a handout for a preventable chronic disease and striking out. Health Literacy is exactly opposite of what it sounds. Its dumbing everything down to a 5th grade level, short words in short sentences in short paragraphs with lots of pictures. If you read this blog you know that is not my style. I am bookish and like to write for others who are the same. But we have to convey information in a way people can understand. I goofed on the topic though and talked about how much it hurt me and encouraged us to work on literacy as well. I said someday it will all be pictograms and health literacy will be talking about the elitism of words.

The biggest correlation to health is literacy level, greater then race or economic status. Knowledge is power.

I then moved into how to make a doctor’s appt. at the local free clinic and wrote down step by step instructions from navigating through their voicemail to what to say and not say. It kills me that I am the only one who knows how to do it when you just have to try it, learn from your mistakes, and make a note of the process. Then I talked about Health Coaching. Which is basically do they have doctors instructions, if not get them, do they know what they are and help them do them. I did it in a little flow chart and kept it light and funny.

I closed with my Dad’s respiratory tech who came out and said she couldn’t ask him to quit smoking because she was a smoker and called that out for the bullshit that it is. It wasn’t about her. He needed to hear that if he didn’t quit smoking he was going to die, not some day but next month, which is what happened. I brought it back to the beginning that we were the experts on motivation and with all her education and training she sucked at it and killed my dad and this is why we need to do this stuff.

I left early from work to have my interview with Hank Waters, he’s the publisher of the Tribune and semi-retired but still writes the editorials. Pretty spry and we had a lively conversation. I feel my chances are strong for an endorsement. He picked up a couple words I used to describe myself and called me a “passionate realist”. I believe that’s pretty apt. I at least got a chance to tell him I love newspapers and the Trib. I forgot to mention the arts section is a little hoity toity.

Then it was on to door knocking. I had missed a day for the Keep Columbia Safe Forum yesterday (went well, in a panned shot on TV as they covered the event but not anything we said except for the incumbent in another ward). Doors went well. Had people who knew who I was. Had my best door ever with a developer and active Chamber of Commerce member who had a sign up for my opponent. He apologized and gave me $100 for the campaign. They’re is some regret in those circles as I am a passionate articulate campaigner and they like that.

Had a driver which helps a lot and Jesse is good, lays out my turf and scouts ahead. Really makes it easy. I also door knocked the street of the current rep which was fun. I said I couldn’t promise they would have the same access as they have now as I wouldn’t be able to buy the house next door but pointed out my phone #. It was fun.

Stopped and saw Jeff and he showed the attack ad by a candidate in another ward. Hateful, fabricated innuendo and lies. Hope I’m never in a campaign like that. We poke each other a bit when we get the chance but in a good spirited way. It is a contest after all and we have to create some discrepancy. Our answers can run pretty similar with these municipal issues. Bill Pauls came out swinging at the last forum. I enjoyed his passion and he layed out a community response to crime that sounded a lot like what I’ve been saying. In fact it was noticed, not just by me, that all the candidates, well not the candy maker dude, were talking my talking points. That’s fine by me, as long as they govern that way.

That was originally what I thought I could get out of this. Shape the debate a bit. I’ve done that, for both wards that are in play and I may just win this thing. After seeing Jeff took Jesse out for some Mexican food and then home. Went to bed early but only slept an hour and have been up. Almost a thousand words and a cup of sleepy tea and I’m still not sleepy.

Well maybe a little. Maybe some Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider Man will help. I’m up to 1985 now. They’re better, starting to mature a bit. I’ve enjoyed reading 7 years of it straight and seeing it grow and develop. The early 80s were tough times. Can’t say I miss them much. Its been rainy. Basement flooded. The rain barrels need some adjustment but I’m in dress clothes all the time and its wet out so I haven’t wanted to mess with it. This weekend I have to mow. Front yard on Saturday and back on Sunday. That’s gonna be hard with the push reel and then walking all day. My sketchers make my toes on my right foot hurt. I need insoles for my hand me down from Dave shoes I wore today.

There’s probably more of note I forgot. Every day is an adventure now, which is cool. But I’m going to try and go back to bed. The baptists ring the church bells all night. they’re also two minutes slow.

Categories: community, health, politics, work

Step 2 part 1

http://www.cyberrecovery.net/NA/StepTwo.html 

Cyber Recovery posts the steps of Narcotics Anonymous electronically. I have been asked by a deaf individual to translate the steps into concrete, simple English with all hearing references removed. I did this orally and it was immensely helpful and personally rewarding for myself to understand the material and to grow in my health literacy skills. Here is the first half of Step 2, I hope to finish by Sunday.

Step 2

Not seeing our life is good is like still doing drugs. We can focus to much on things that are wrong. We can focus to much on a thing that is good. We can look at the good things in our life to much and have an accident. Drug addicts look at the world in three ways. We can think things are to good and not pay attention. We can think the world is sad and unhappy and feel sad and unhappy. We can also look at the world with clear eyes and see thinking like a drug addict makes us unhappy. When we see clearly we can find a balance. We can see good and bad and respond like we should. Seeing things as they are is a gift. We can move forward without being afraid of a disaster. Life is not happy all the time or sad all the time.

Doing the same thing and thinking it will be different is what drug addicts do. We have to think about our old way of doing things to have a different life. If we don’t its still like when drugs controlled our life. If we trust enough to act differently we can see change can happen. We do something different and different things happen. We are moving forward. Knowing what real life is makes us sane.

Being an addict makes us obsess over stuff. “Coming to believe” lets us see what is real. Thinking can only take us part way to God. What we say to ourselves has to match what is real. When they are different we suffer. We have to work on this every day. We believe what we have done.

Faith is trusting without having done it. Belief can be what we have done or faith and what we have done. In the old days people submitted to a king. When we ask “is it okay?” to someone we are  submitting to them. We all have people and things we submit to. We submit to things we believe in. In recovery we look at what we believe in.

This choice is very clear in recovery. Early in recovery we can decide not to submit to things that make us feel bad. We learn to decide what it is to be sane. Choosing what to believe takes practice. Some addicts didn’t know they could choose what to submit to. Some addicts never thought to try and resist.  Submitting appeared like we had to.

Believing in something is giving up to that idea. Our seeing gets bigger when we look at things like other people do and feel. We talk to others about what we each feel and do. We can talk to others and read books to know how to stay clean. “Coming to believe” means we can stop submitting to bad people and bad things. We can ask ourselves, “Can I do better?” Looking at ourselves every day helps us see reality. We start to forget to worry about tomorrow and yesterday. The parts of yourself you don’t like are often crazy. We would not choose to do those things today. We have a bad life when we are not grateful.

Being sane in recovery must meet our needs each day. It is natural to feel confused as you change. When we are confused or upset it means we are changing. People in meetings and God can help us even if we haven’t worked all the steps or gotten very far in recovery. In recovery people are here for us and we are here for others. This is not true when we act like an addict to control other people. We can’t expect people to treat us better because we stopped doing drugs. We can treat people better who stop doing drugs if we want to. It is important to do it because we want to help or be nice and not because we expect something. What we do willingly is different then what we have to do. Being part of a group means we respect each other.

insomnia

Its 2:30 in the morning and I have been up for an hour. I lay in bed and tried to sleep but without avail. Last night I took a sleeping pill and slept pretty soundly. I started to wake up in the middle of the night but couldn’t fully emerge out of sleep or really wrap my head around the thoughts that were trying to buzz through my head. I slept late and was tired most of the day. I struggled with creative tasks and decided perhaps Trazodone isn’t for me.

Trazodone if you don’t know is a tricyclic anti-depressant, a fairly crappy one but it has this side effect of making people sleep all night. It builds up a level in your system so less problem with tolerance. Its the only sleeper I approve of clinically. Been around forever, well tolerated, few reports of side effects except for grogginess in the am on rare occasions. I took half a 50 mg. Maybe I’ll try 1/4 next time.

If I am groggy I don’t see how it is really helping me. I am pretty focused on what I am doing, hence the sleeplessness and being tired in the day time is the thing that bugs me about sleeplessness. Why should I have that and not the extra hours in the day? So no sleeping pill. When my insomnia was at its worst I quit trying to make myself lay in bed and allow myself to sleep and got up and blogged for an hour and got tired, got some good sleep after, and that was the end of that little cycle. So trying it again.

Where to begin, the campaign goes well. Last week had several meetings including the Professional Firefighter’s Association. That went well my listening skills paid off as well as my knowledge of where the public is at from all this door knocking. I hit 1,300 or 1,400 total yesterday, I can’t remember. My numbers keep going up although I am no longer looking forward to the time change. That extra hour of canvassing not only means more doors it means one less hour to manage my life tasks. Soon door knocking will fade right into follow up calls. Alas.

If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is at least fun and exciting and I like pushing my limits and working hard. I like being outside everyday and watching the sunset. Got some talkers at the doors tonight. Fun older folks. Listened to their concerns, validated what I could and discussed some solutions a bit, mostly they wanted some company. Probably swung a couple of votes from the candy maker. They had signed his petition, hadn’t seen him since. I can’t imagine trying to do this even half way seriously being the parent of small kids. Bigger ones you can put to work. I guess you could strap em in a papoose and bring one along.

I’ve been thinking about some of the parents I met. One guy didn’t come to the door a few days back because he was holding a toddler. I’ve seen lots of don’t ring the bell, baby sleeping signs. I’m not sure its healthy for kids to be the center of the family universe. Your mom ought to love you but you should be kind of on the outskirts looking for your place not having everything revolve around you. You get an unhealthy sense of your own importance I think. My family certainly didn’t revolve around me, especially being 6 of us, 5 after Dennis died.

I am getting more awake, not less. This might be the beginning of my day. This week have a lot going on, next week it gets worse, and so on… Only four though and then the election, and then vacation, and then increasingly likely 3 years of service. A 65 hour week will look like child’s play. I haven’t totaled the hours yet but pushing well past 90 probably over a 100 now. Not uncommon to go from 6 and never get done before 10:30 anymore. All fun stuff though and you have to do one thing after another all day any day anyway. I don’t feel pressured, I feel present in each moment, I just miss the time to process. I think that is what generates the sleeplessness. I’ve never not had it. Never not been able to read the newspaper cover to cover. Today I looked at the headlines on the front and back page. Got to know what’s on people’s minds and follow the local news at least.

City Council was short tonight so stayed for the end so I could see what the whole thing entails. I am curious about the order of voting. I am nervous about my early votes. I will have time to study the agenda and read the materials then that I don’t now. I sat by one of the people who was nice to me at the Chamber of Commerce forum. She talked to me like I was going to win. I think that has become the common wisdom. My opponent who goes to these faithfully and has been as I’ve said getting ready to govern rather then campaigning looked pissed tonight. I heard him venting to the conservative candidate from another ward who I have been friendly with, I think about me. “Going all over town… even went to Jenku’s [longtime former council person from the ward and treasurer of his campaign]”.

Someone helping me experienced in these things said you end up hating your opponent by the end. I don’t. I feel a little sorry for him. Thinking its inevitable, spinning his wheels and realizing he is getting out worked, out spent, and out organized by some guy he’d never heard of who he didn’t think had a chance. He looked pissed tonight and didn’t stop by and pat me on the back and say “hi” as has been his pattern. Everyone is not going to like you and I am going to have to learn to deal with that.

Tomorrow is the EEZ informational meeting. Will be interesting to hear from the state’s perspective. May help me make up my mind on it. Strong reasons to be for it and against it but you can only vote once. Hate to miss an evening on the doors but seems essential. Will at least be back in time for follow up calls. Got a big pile of them now. Wednesday is my campaign event, that should be fun. Yard signs are in, that’ll be cool. Jeff was excited to show them off. I went from work, to doors, to council meeting; rushing to still be late to all 3 and couldn’t get over to get some and check them out.

Tomorrow is another day. I guess. Sometimes I describe my current life as one big day. Its a blur, for sure. We’ll see how I function today on 2 hours sleep. I suspect a site better then I did on 8 today. That way madness lays. But you only get to vote once and I can’t do what I want to do on Trazodone. My work suffered. I couldn’t write creatively for my latest concept paper. I need to do that today or call in sick if I can’t do my work.

Thursday the Home Builders have a Happy Hour. Not only am I walking into what could be a hostile camp but they will all be liquored up too. Fun, fun, fun. Actually I think I will be warmly received. I met a builder, Chamber member, and conservative guy on P&Z last week who was ardent in his support and he knew my positions well as he was at the Chamber forum and we were in a visioning session together and I spoke a lot. I also door knocked the extremely Right wing guy who was there and he also is voting for me and hosting a yard sign. Lives on a busy road too. Sidewalks and common sense no no party.

I had proposed jobs and we all want to live in a good community as our areas of shared interest to build a 3-5 minute speech on. Vicki suggested telling them how they can help me enact my neighbor to neighbor vision for Columbia. It was a great idea and its a beautiful speech. Would like to have it virtually memorized and give it with rhetorical flourish. It’ll be hard to hold a room in a sports bar so I want to boom it and make a clear difference with the other fellows.

Friday is the Mule Skinners Forum. It should be interesting being in a forum with my natural support. Its been a while since the last forum. I am a different person. Well think I will try laying down again rather then turn on the light to find the power cord. To sleep, perhaps to dream…or really, to dream, perchance to sleep. Goodnight faithful reader. Be on the lookout for a change of gears and the second step of Narcotics Anonymous in simple concrete English with all hearing references removed. Man does not live on politics alone.

i heard there was a game on?

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Getting up and getting a glass of tea and writing a blog post was a good move last night. Got those thoughts out of my head and I was tired by the end, holding off sleep for a good break in the narrative. Sharing the parts of the tale I didn’t want to forget. And then sleep. Grand total of 8 hours, first time in weeks and I felt good. Not the sleep deprived dangerous kind of good but well rested and normal kind of good. I might have a new strategy going.

I got up moving a little slow. The rain scheduled for today was cancelled so washed a couple of loads and got them on the line. Got some local grass fed ground beast out of the freezer so I would be obligated to cook, best day of the week to do so, even though still have leftovers back. Did some dishes and read the paper. Then I got a couple of phone calls and lost my window to call power brokers before having to get ready for the daily canvass.

Left a note on the front door to come on in and was in the shower when my driver arrived. Started in the most distant part of the neighborhood and what I thought would be the awkward to walk spots. Then I did this area I didn’t really know existed. Off the beaten path and this suburban wonderland of adequate infrastructure and comfortable homes. A beautiful day with lots of kids outside playing. Unknowingly hit the house of one of my clients, which hit home the wisdom of giving up my clinical load.

I’m getting faster and no one had issues. Got some houses of folks who had signed my petition. Arranged for more yard signs. Nice having consistent success with that pitch, I’ve been slack on it, not wanting to go from never heard of you to sure I’ll advertise for you in five minutes. Meeting people who know me from the paper. Someone from the dog park, big supporter, big hater of my opponent the “dog nazi” and she waffled on a sign, but came through.

My driver had a meeting so I came home dealt with emails and had some leftovers for lunch. I had made a big salad for breakfast (leaf lettuce, cucumber, with local spinach, broccoli, & fenugreek sprouts with swiss cheese, salami and my homemade mustard dressing). I also brought in the laundry as Fido wouldn’t go outside without me.

Still got out and got some doors, met people who were glad their neighbor was running, getting a lot of signs. It was nice being able to leave from my front door and getting comfortable off my usual rap since some I’d asked to sign my petition. Second to the last door, the guy with the antique firetruck who wasn’t on my list but I wanted to touch base said to get home to watch the game. Then I realized why that one house I skipped was having a party. Still stopped at my progressive friends and chatted some but they were expecting pizza and had the game on.

I would’ve watched it myself but its not on the one channel I get (gotta get some triple A batteries). Would have ordered pizza but my earlier self knew my weak willed self really wanted to cook dinner after a long and hard day of door knocking. Its ground round so I browned it in a little olive oil and added a big onion from the market and half a yellow pepper as well as some broccoli, spinach, and a couple of local roasted jalapenos out of the freezer and some garlic from the Monroe market. Added some spaghetti sauce as I am living largely can free thank you very much until they stop putting BPA in the liner. Then I added Mrs. Dash, fresh ground cumin and mustard seed, and a chipotle’ bullion cube. Thought about thickening it but didn’t. Ate it on toast with some of my homemade hot bread and butter pickles and some garlic olives. Pretty yummy.

Then I took Fido for a walk because he was acting like a spaz all evening. Today was his off day but tomorrow is a nightmare day (for him) of work, door knocking, dinner with Trevor, City Council meeting. I would have had to gotten his walk in before work to stay on schedule and I can’t count on waking bolt awake at five every morning, or four or three as the case may be. Some day all this will feel normal and I will just sleep like a normal person. right?

Categories: cooking, dogs, politics, work

up early again

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Woke up about 3:00, forced myself to stay in bed until 5:00. Had a long and strange dream. I had gone back to Amsterdam but it seemed more like Austin. I was following up on some mystery from my last visit but it was more like a detective show then the actual mysteries I encountered in my eventful Amsterdam trip. There was political intrigue. I remember being in the situation where I knew I couldn’t remember most of what had happened in the last trip so people knew me but I didn’t know them. I remember someone taking my car. Eventually I encounter these business guys who did it and they think it is a pretty funny bit of hazing and I remember grabbing this heavyset bald guy in a suit and telling him that he just committed a felony and that if this shit doesn’t end right now I am having him prosecuted. I remember walking around with people I know through long tenement type apartment buildings and walking through people’s apartments and introducing ourselves. Flea markets with a big radio station promotion.

“Are you awake now?” I ask myself lying in bed allowing the details of the dream to come back in my mind. Dreams are cool and well worth cultivating. They’re just thoughts that we experience differently. The visual acuity, the sense of emotion, the heavy emotive content and lack of logic and social norms. The overall feeling (really the only thing that matters in dream interpretation) was one of discovery and adventure. A challenged sense of purpose that bounces back strong. Only a touch of confusion and that tempered by acceptance. I must be in a good place. Fido too, he slept in his own room last night.

Might take him for a walk even though I just did yesterday. I’ve got the time. All the house really needs is dishes done. Too rainy for laundry and it will force me to delve into my second tier dress clothes. All the walking and Marcus Aurelius is getting me more fit and trim. Wouldn’t mind growing down into some of my older dress shirts for example. My brown pants are fitting nice where I used to not be able to wear them with a shirt tucked in and they had fallen into the only to be worn in a pinch category.

Glad to have a tough week behind me at work. Closing or transferring all my cases has been grueling. A lot of details and good documentation essential for the hand off. Saying goodbye. “Mike, sorry I missed our appt. can I reschedule” “Well actually no you can’t, sorry I didn’t get to see you…good luck with the next guy”. I’m the only one who really meets people where they’re at all the time without exception. Some clients need that, everyone likes it. Everyone gets a step down in service.

The advantage of being a human being who talks to other human beings instead of the dis-empowering counselor to client relationship is they all care about me as a person too. Even though it sucks for them, none of them like people stepping out of their lives, they are happy for me and want me to be happy. They are proud to see me looking good and stepping into the spotlight. They know what I can do and can imagine that in the City Council. But its sad nonetheless.

I had a driver for my doors last night. Ann is a pilot and an interesting character who had some good tips and some things I hadn’t thought about. We hit the scattered houses in the precinct in the brand new neighborhood. All this generic America development. It was rainy and we saw the construction sites running with water mud pouring into the feeder creeks. In one site we saw the barrier material still in its rolls while the red mud pours into the creek. Everyone has a security system. The few people at home are content with the city. My picture and quotations are in that days paper and no one knows who I am.

Sarah is driving me today, might try her hand at door knocking. I am afraid its a little early for a surrogate. It definitely bombed when I tried having some help with signature gathering. If Sarah wants to do it we’ll give it a shot. Mostly she wants to hang out and be supportive which I appreciate. I got caught up on my follow up calls but it seemed late to be calling my assigned political contacts I need to reach out to. That’ll be today, Lord Willing and the creek don’t rise. Its supposed to be a rainy one. Need to figure out better plastic for my clipboard. Tried a comicbook bag cut in half which has the right size but was to flimsy.

The garage is flooded. I’ll need to get the subpump outflow extension back on track I suspect. Should have left well enough alone when I was messing in there. Dad usually had a reason for doing stuff. I miss him this morning. His wisdom, his unabashed self interest, which I always seem to run a little short on and causes me trouble.

Ordered beans yesterday. Will run short and probably have to pick up half a pound. Don’t even know if Z-Best is still at the market been roasting my own for so long. I’ll chat ’em up if they’re there. I hope the bread lady has some sliced. I ate the last of Jeff’s last night. I’d make myself some eggs but no bread. Eggs have been around awhile and will probably hard boil them. That or get the bacon out of the freezer. A pound of bacon is a big commitment for a household of one. (Sorry Fido no salt and nitrates for you buddy, I want you to live to be 20 so you’ll stay on dog cereal.)

Guess I’ll get my second cup of coffee, made it stronger today as this Guat is not that flavorful, hope the next is better. Got a Guat, Sumatran, Ethiopian and a Rwandan for the next round. Was going to treat myself to a pound of Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, damn the expense but they’re both out of season.

wow, what a day

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I didn’t post yesterday. I hit a wall, stymied by trying to complete a campaign ethics report online and then navigating through establishing online banking for the campaign account. Ate up my day light and I didn’t get to talk to any voters. It was a stressful day at work, with a tight frenetic pace and no longer have the option to just work a little longer to wrap it all up. But if going the extra mile were easy it wouldn’t be a commandment and everyone would do it.

Today was a good day. I went to bed early last night not even finishing my absinthe, served classically. Thanks John for the absinthe spoon, a rarely used but much appreciated kitchen gadget. If you don’t know you serve absinthe by pouring the shot over a sugar cube which rests on a slotted spoon that has a little bump to go over the edge of the glass. It clouds the water in a particular way and hard on the liver I hear so I drink sparingly. Last night I had the barest sip before deciding to hit the hay and let the glass sit on the counter. Left the house smelling like licorice and I finished it tonight after canvassing.

Woke at 4:00 and felt pretty good but lay in bed and pretended to sleep until 6:30. I got dressed, business casual, that’s probably reason enough for my work to be proud I’m running, finally dressing like your supposed to. Creates a hurdle to engage with folks who are more ghetto for lack of a better word. Poor people make assumptions about people in ties, usually correct ones. Now people are surprised when I talk about my sister who is addicted to crack (3 years clean though, so no shame there, nothing wrong with being an addict just doing drugs. some of the best people I know are addicts.) They used to take it as a given, I was more like them.

April 4th I go back to being me.

Today I put on slacks (long johns underneath for canvassing), dress shoes, dress shirt and cardigan. Debated the tie and realized it was Saturday. I made the call as all the city staffers and managers were dressed in their business casual/fancy casual except the deputy manager of a department who was filling in for his boss. He had a suit cuz he didn’t know. The Ward 6 candidate was in a tie, he didn’t know either. I sat next to him and we related as candidates.

His opposition is closer to me politically. It was nice meeting her and getting her perspective. I also introduced myself to the conservative council person who came even though he’s not up for re-election this year. He told a funny story about goofy constituent calls where someone complained about the parking enforcement double parking while they wrote him a parking ticket. The councilman brought up the beer trucks that block the street willy nilly servicing the bars downtown. “Well I like beer trucks”.

I heard presentations on city government by the city manager, and all the department heads and the municipal court judge. It was really informative and I am largely impressed with how the city is run. Columbia is the best governed place I’ve ever lived (with apologies to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place Monroe, Michigan; Berkeley, California, and Toledo, Ohio. Honorable mention to Rossford, Ohio because I didn’t know enough to follow local politics in my 19-20 years).

I learned that at our current funding for street repair we will repave the streets every 57 years. Streets last 30 years. We also have big pension underfunding issues, a storm water situation that is not getting the resources it needs and revenue is flat to down. We’re going to have to be really smart with what we do with our little dollars.

I was most impressed with the city manager who is personable, smart and a good leader. Seems like he is taking the city in a good direction. I am also impressed that we have maintained good reserves which has cushioned us through the tough times except for transit which is going to need some additional revenue or major cuts to services.

Neither of my opponents showed up. In a way it was cool, allowed me to relax and be treated as the heir apparent. I also learned one of my opponents had voted against GetAboutColumbia a $4.3 million (this year) Federal grant for non-motorized transportation as a Parks and Rec Commission guy because some people don’t like it. Its controversial, blow back by motorists who feels bicyclists are getting uppity or something but damn, that’s got to be a majority issue, even if you hate trails that’s a lot of jobs to be against.

I got interviewed so imagine I’ll be in the paper. Hope my professional head shot got in to the paper in time, although I like the unflattering float trip pic. they pulled off Facebook for the first story. Keeps me humble being a homely mug with a giant melon. Canvassing and staying on my dog walking schedule is going to have me looking good by April. I’ll have to come up with a scheme to keep it up.

After the interview I grabbed some Indian food, delicious downtown and hit the streets to canvass. The new flyer is out and looks a lot better with the new photo. Tomorrow I need to schedule another photo shoot, get the dog in the picture. I let him out and then canvassed until dark. I had a brief hiatus to wait for flyers but some down time was appreciated.

Had some good houses today. Met an anti-obesity community organizer and talked quite a bit. I went to one house and no one came to the door even though only the storm door was closed. A kid came up with a scooter and I gave her a flyer and asked her to give it to her parents. She said, “I don’t have parents, just a mom. I had two moms but one moved out.” I was thinking I was sorry I missed her as with a story like that it has to be someone I know and sure enough I heard Mike, Mike shouted down the block and got caught up with an old friend.

I’ve hit 126 doors. Not to shabby though I am off pace. It may not be realistic. I am going to try to recruit a driver to speed the process. I made my follow up calls. I talked at length with an older couple about the state of the neighborhood and they are going to talk to some neighbors and may gather a group to meet me. They live in the same block as the sweet old lady I talked to at length about not knowing her neighbors when she didn’t come to the door. When I left a message for one she had specifically mentioned she did not know I mentioned the possibility of a meeting.

I have this dream where the older folks meet the newer folks and everyone feels a little safer and a little more neighborly. To rekindle our cross-generational interactions. It might start on Garden Drive. I’ve been praying for that little old lady. After that did some business and looking to wind down and get some shut eye. Tomorrow morning is my own, you can’t canvass before noon on Sunday as you are supposed to be in church. If its at all nice I will walk Fido to the dog park and try to chat up some dog people. Fido has been getting his walks but its been after dark and he needs to see more dogs to have as much life satisfaction as i would like him to have. John was sweet enough to remind me that even with being busy Fido has a better life then most.

I know that. I got no room for guilt. I’ve been working hard all day, every day and get to sleep the sleep of the just. Its a good thing to work hard and try to help. There’s a lot of mess out there but there’s a lot of room for growth if you’ve got a little hustle and a lot of compassion.