Posted by: eileenandrory | September 2, 2010

Bring Me to Life

It is true, in my life I have been hit by bouts of pretty major depression.  Sometimes I analyse myself to bits, wanting to know exactly which parts of my brain are “faulty” and how to go about fixing them.  Despite all the good work by John Kirwan over the last couple of years mental illness and depression is still a fairly taboo topic.  It’s odd, when asked how you are it’s ok to say, well I’m just getting over a cold, flu, sniffles, *insert physical ailment here* as long as you don’t go too overboard, but it’s definitely not ok to say, well I’m depressed, anxious, stressed and thought about not getting out of bed or even waking up this morning.

So, we run around with our pasted on smiles and only the more observant of us will notice that the cracks around the edges are not laughter lines, they are stress fractures from trying to hard to maintain the status quo.  I know the “black dogs” well, and up until a few months ago I thought I had them well under control.  Depression is a little like alcoholism – not that I know what being an alcoholic is like, but I can imagine – the spectre of the black dogs returning is always there.  Sometimes they’re just sitting quietly in the corner and other times they might howl every now and again, but they are always there.  Anyone who has had a bout of clinical depression will know exactly what I am talking about.  Most of the time I pat myself on the back and think that in my bout of post-natal depression I learnt some pretty cool dog-control techniques.  In fact I would say I thought I had it sussed, had everything figured out.  Every time the dogs would make a noise I would give them that withering look and tell myself that I didn’t need to let them out.

This time things have been different.  For 5 years the dog control has worked, for 5 years I have managed to keep a lid on things.  However a combination of events led to the dogs stealthily digging under the fence and breaking out, and here they are stomping all over my beautiful life.  I hate the people who just tell you to get a grip, and wonder what on earth is wrong with you, because the fact is that at the moment my life is hard, for me.  I don’t care if you wouldn’t find it hard, in fact I couldn’t really give a shit.  At the moment my life is hard for me.  Most if it is self-induced, and let’s face it most depression is, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

What are the dogs that hound me at the moment?  Well, one is “life as a big fat failure”.  See, despite lots of “self-love” comments to the contrary I still don’t feel like I lived up to that “potential” that little girl who wanted the conquer the world and change things.  I wonder what she would think now if she could look into her future and see herself.  Would she be happy?  I know I should say yes, but my gut says no.  Most of the time I magic some kind of wonderful cognitive dissonance and convince myself that it is simply because she would not know how to value what I have now and so would automatically devalue it.  However my cognitive dissonance remedying switch stopped functioning a few weeks back and now all that little girl sees is a HOUSEWIFE.  Not the “first female prime minister” as I proudly wrote at age 10.  Thanks Jenny, you beat me to that one.

I wonder would I have studied what I studied at University had I known then what I know now?  See, I loved my University years, but lets face it, Women’s Studies and English are hardly career making topics unless you go into teaching (considered, but I really do not have the patience) or enter the academic ivory tower (also considered, but realised that wasn’t the real world).  So now I look back and think, shit that was fun, but what was the point of all that?

Which kind of brings me to now.  When I left the UK and left what was a “promising” career in retail I swore black and blue that I did not ever want to have to manage children again unless they were my own.  Retail staff are peculiar, and book trade staff in particular, in that they are often young, arrogant and terribly opinionated.  They also don’t tend to give a rats arse about turning up to work on time or even doing their work.  I hasten to add that that is not all of them, but enough to make my life a living hell.  Add to that the smart little chump who told me I was racist because I asked him to sweep the stock room floor and I rest my case.  Retail management, definitely not for me.  Turned me into a raving monster who worked 50 to 60 hours a week.  I was NOT a nice person.  I might have been earning money, but I was very unhappy with the person I was becoming.

Coming back to NZ pregnant, with no friends left in NZ, a bucket load back in the UK, I guess I was a case of PND waiting to happen.  As part of my recovery from PND I threw myself into volunteer work – which I love and am still doing now.  Yes, it is all based around the needs of mother, child etc, but recently I discovered there’s a big piece of life missing in all this volunteer work.  I don’t have time for me anymore.  Between being a Mum, being a housewife, being a volunteer I have lost sight of me.  Add to that a husband who is in a precarious job situation, my lack of bankable qualifications, a mortgage and so much volunteer work that I no longer have any social life outside that and the dogs dug themselves out while I had my back turned.

My volunteer work should have helped me.  And, to be fair it did for a long time.  However no-one truly volunteers for nothing at all – and if they say they do they are lying.  The things I thought I was going to get from the volunteer work, the bankable qualifications, and the camaraderie didn’t necessarily materialise.  New Zealand still has a long way to go to truly value the work of the volunteer, in fact one could say the ultimate in volunteering is the ‘Mum’, so I was doing triple shifts, Mum, Volunteer and Housewife.  As I was reminded the other week, when you’re a Mum no-one sits you down and has a nice chat to you about how your performance in these KPI areas are doing great, these are perfect, and these ones could do better.  Sure, I get hugs, sure I get wet sloppy kisses.  BUT, I also get, “I don’t like you”, I get hit, I have to clean up shit, and I don’t just mean metaphorical shit, and I have to do all of this and maintain an even temper, and that’s just the Mum side of things.  When we move to the housework side all of the same applies, and sadly in the volunteer world it does too.  Very rarely is the performance review concept applied in the volunteer world – it should.  And here I digress and think, ho-hum, maybe I should walk the talk and do this with the volunteers that “report to me” and then one of the more belligerent dogs snarls and says yes, you just feed me, because I’m the dog that goes my the moniker of “Toomuchtodo”.  So, back to that volunteer world, very little thanks and a lot of well, they are volunteers, of course they do it for the love so they don’t really need anything else.  I’m not saying that is the actual thought process, more like the end result.  Are you ever going to get sued by a volunteer for a shitty work place environment? No, I don’t think so.  I rest my case.  Love of the cause only goes so much, sometimes the volunteers need more.

Ah, you might think, “woe is me” get over yourself.  Well, at the moment actually I would tell you I don’t give a flying you know what about you.  Because I am so wrapped up in my little world that really I can’t think straight.  The things that I have described might well look like molehills to you, but your molehill is my mountain and if you were a true friend you would simply be there.

If the truth be known, the last week or so things have gotten slightly better, I say only slightly because I have at least told the dogs to sit down, and some of them might be listening.  I have come to realise that I am NOT superwoman and I don’t have to be.  I AM allowed to make mistakes and I am allowed to say no, I am even allowed to give up on some things.  More than that, I am trying to let little comments made by well meaning people not hit me like well aimed missiles.  They mean to “help” in that nice way where they tell you all about “their solutions”.  Guess what, your clothes don’t fit me, I would never ask to borrow them, I don’t like them, so what makes you think I will like your solutions too?  Solutions, like clothes are not a one size fits all approach.

What have I figured out, what has made the last week or so more bearable??  Well, I am trying to give out the sort of stuff that I want back to the nearest and dearest to me.  I am actually trying to live up to the whole “Live With Purpose” idea that drove Rory and I to this blog in the first place.  I am trying to make every action a considered one, but that is tiring given my energy levels are at an all time low.  It does seem to be working a little, so that is good.  Other plans??  Well, I will be stopping a lot, but not all, of what I do for “others” in the next 12 months.  There is, only so much of me to give around and now I have to focus on taking much of it back to start again.  I admire those people who do it time and time again year and year out, but I have to face the fact that perhaps I am not that person, not yet.  Maybe one day, but not just yet.

More about my plans later, as right now they’re mine.  And I’m not prepared to share them.  Just yet.

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Posted by: eileenandrory | August 10, 2010

Symptoms of Stress

It is difficult to know your stressed, whilst the ‘stressing’ is going on. Last night however we had an incident which I believe is a symptom of the stress our family is under due to the ‘Supercity’ re-organisation.

I know that me and EJ are experiencing heightened levels of stress but it is odd to see it reflected in our children. Those of you that know Master Chacko know that he is a mild mannered thoughtful character, however even he can turn into the incredible hulk on occasion.

 The kids where in the bath, near as I can tell Castor hurt Carys in some way, I stormed in to find out what happened Carys was crying and Castor was apologetic. I asked Castor what happened, and he refused to tell me, at which point I told him to get out of the bath.

He refused to get out, I repeated myself a couple of times <getting louder each time> Castor was getting angrier and more upset, I went to get him out, and he stood up picked up the large bucket that we store the bath toys in and tipped the water all over the floor!

Shocking to me, and probably to himself as well. I got him out and made him clean it all up, then sent him to bed without a book.

Maybe i’m reading too much into it, but the event brought home to me just how on edge everyone at home is, because of the uncertainty my employment situation is under.

The message you can take from this is that you can never underestimate the effects of workplace stress on the rest of your life.

Posted by: eileenandrory | July 15, 2010

Wow!

I have not blogged in a while, there’s too much going on! We got back from Australia on Monday <well actually we didn’t clear the airport until Tuesday morning>

I met my Dad, and my 2nd Mum, and my Brother, and my Sisters, and it was AWESOME! They welcomed me and EJ and the kids with open arms, I felt a part of their group, and i’m still reeling from the effects.

How do you go from being an only child to having a brother and two sisters in the blink of an eye? How does one react to having a Dad for the first time in 38 years?

So my mind is numb, it was such a great experience <and to be fair it was a holiday> that the everyday humdrum seems grey and drab. The office this morning is dull and lifeless <and it’s 6am so no one is here> and my employment woes seem pressing one minute and a distant memory the next. I feel somewhat schizophrenic.

Part of what I feel is a sense of loss for the life I might of had, don’t get me wrong I would not give up what I have for that ‘alternative’ reality, it’s just I wonder what it would have been like growing up with Dad and having him there to support me etc…

The kids got on well, both Castor and Carys were spoilt rotten! Sarah and Alex come across as a reflection of Castor and Carys

All in all it was a great time, and I can’t wait to see how the future turns out!

Posted by: eileenandrory | June 24, 2010

My turn to say something

So what do you do?

What do you do when your partner wants a radical change in life and your heart supports that but your head says it’s not feasible??  Yes, I don’t make comments on here very often, Rory has that pretty much under control, but this is meant to be my blog too.  So, here I go wading in making a comment.

My darling other half seems to be having a bit of a crisis at the moment.  To be fair he has been having the same crisis over and over again over the past few years.  Ever since we have been back in NZ if I was honest, and if he was totally honest.  He ‘fell’ into the career he has now years ago in the UK because I saw a job that he could do at our Head Office.  So it went.  He did really, REALLY well at it.  All because it’s a helping job, and Rory loves to help people.  It swells my heart with pride and love to know that.  That’s one of the things I love about him.  However like all jobs it does have its downside and now that career is not so much a career as a millstone.  I say a millstone because our life, and our children now demand that we have a certain income level.  He can’t change careers midstream, drop everything, retrain, earn peanuts and then gain some soul enhancing satisfaction.  He’s stuck.

As you can see from the rest of his posts, he did try out to be a Corporate Whore recently, and fortunately for him he didn’t get it.  But, I tell you what PISSES me off most of all about the whole process!!  Interviews are designed for those who can FAKE IT the most.  I can say that, because I know I can do it well, and I have, and without sounding arrogant, I can ace most interviews.  Unfortunately for Rory, he lacks any degree of artifice and WILL NOT fake things for an interview.  That sort of behaviour melts my heart, but does not win jobs.  Rory is a devastatingly humble person, will not blow his own trumpet, will not “stretch” things a little to fit the circumstance.  I love him for that, but what it does mean is that interviews are not his strong suit.  The fighter in me wants to go and give that woman a good talking to, does she know what sort of man she has turned away?  With Rory what you see is what you get – and trust me, not many come better than that.  If he says he will do it, he will, and believe me he wants to help you, thats what he enjoys.  He’s just not that great at interviews.  And what the hell is this craze with “competency based questions” anyway.  Sounds like a load of bollocks to me.

On the other hand I’m proud of him.  He realised that this is not for him and that he wants something different.  Proud, but unbelievably scared.  It’s terrifying to live as the non-bread winner and leave that sort of decision to the bread winner.  We made the choice that a parent stays home and looks after the kids, but what happens when the one earning the money doesn’t like the way they are earning the money anymore??  What happens then?  Does the bread winner resent the non-earner??  What does that mean for the kids?  It’s not like we are young and childless anymore with the ability to just chop and change as we please.   If I did go out to work we would have to put the kids out to daycare, and as much as this is important to Rory, contracting out our parenting all week is not really an option either of us want to consider.  And there is the thought that for me to earn a decent amount of money so that he could be doing something he enjoys I would probably have to go back to doing something I don’t enjoy and ditch a whole bunch of other things that I do.  We rob Peter to pay Paul.

I am just starting to develop a new career for myself, and that has taken the better part of the last 5 years.  Admittedly I have been raising children over that time, so I have not been sitting on my backside, I know it’s not easy to change careers, it takes time.  Sure, I am starting to earn some money, but that’s some money and is a drop in the bucket compared to what poor Rory is able to earn.

So what can we do?  We have reduced expenses down, but with the inexorable increase in costs that children bring we can only just stay on top of things.  I say ‘just’, because some weeks we are not and some weeks we are.  The ‘just’ is very accurate, there is no room for extravagance here.

If I am truly honest with myself there is probably more space for money savings, but those decisions are very uncomfortable ones.  Did we really need to buy the toy car for our son when he was screaming his head off having a tube shoved up his nose in the hospital?  No, we didn’t, but can you blame us?

So, my heart, being torn in two, says he/we need/s to do what is right for him/us.  And what exactly is that???

Posted by: eileenandrory | June 23, 2010

Life happens between blogs

The blog has been on my mind. But events seem to occur to fast for them to be recorded.

Here’s a brief overview of what has happened since I last blogged:

1) I sat 3 interviews for a job at Genesis Energy. The 3rd interview broke me, as it happens I turned up unprepared and I did not have my game face on. The interview was with the GM who asked me questions about due diligence, core competencies and quizzed me about Company values. It would seem that I failed to impress her. In my defence though I was under the impression that the interview was a formality and I did have a statistics exam the next day!

As it turns out I did not like Peggy <and it takes a lot for me to say that> and any manager that would veto the opinions of her staff based on a 10 minute conversation <the interview went for an hour but I believe she made up her mind in the first 10 minutes> is not really someone I want to work for.

Also Peggy left me feeling like a little boy, when I heard the news that I had not got the job, I was VERY upset, and my confidence in myself took a sudden dip. Who wants to work for someone like that?

Admittedly this could just be a justification!

2) As mentioned I had an exam, but not just any exam it was a Business Statistics exam, perhaps the single most boring subject in the world! I had not done well in my course work which is odd, because I spent a LOT of time on it, when I saw some of the model answers I noticed that I had made a really stupid mistake that cost me half the marks in the 2nd assignment.

Anyway I think I did well in my exam, but I noticed that our tutor had misplaced my 1st internal test, so I didn’t get a mark for that either! I would not like to redo this paper…

3) But who says I will….

Because of the events that have happened recently, I have realised that maybe being a corporate whore is not for me. I wrote a personal plan for myself a few years ago, and on it was “build a piece of fine furniture” but how can I do that if I spend all of my time at tech? So I have taken the 2nd semester off this year to focus on design and building stuff. Who knows what might happen?

4) We’re off to Sydney in July, which is fast approaching. Meeting my dad for the 1st time is going to interesting. I’m looking forward to it, but i’m nervous.

5) The Auckland Transition Agency is approaching, do I have a job after 1 November? Who knows. We have all been mapping ourselves to jobs in the new organisation, and I think I get a chance to do the same for the Transport Authority by the end of the week.

I have to say all of this not knowing is beginning to get on my nerves.

6) Castor is in Hospital. Historically he has had a problem with not doing solid poo’s. We have not really thought much of it, because his diet is EXTREMELY good, lots of fruit and veges. But EJ has been pushing the doctors and finally we saw a pediatrician who got us an X-ray and noticed what could easily have been 4 years of backed up poo! EJ is feeling guilty because she thinks it happened as a result of a bottle of formula he had a couple of days after he was born.

Either way, he is relatively healthy, smart with a great sense of humour, who could want any more?

Life happens, and often times we forget to stop and smell the roses. I’m doing that now.

And  they smell pretty good from here!

Posted by: eileenandrory | May 18, 2010

In Pursuit of happiness

So what is happiness about?

I’ve read a number of definitions, my favourite being “the ability to enjoy less” which takes a bit of thinking to understand what it means.

The pursuit of happiness is a luxury we have in the developed world, because – in general our basic (Maslovian) needs have been met, and so we have excess time on our hands to worry about being happy.

So is happiness a worthy cause? In my more pessimistic moments I think of the pursuit of happiness as being a rather selfish act, considering all that is wrong with the world.

Then there are the times when I think that the pursuit of happiness can actually have a greater good. Like volunteering with the Sallies, or collecting rubbish on the local beach.

Lastly I wanted to explore the idea that I’ve heard a number of people speak about when asked what they want for their future and that is:

“I want to be independantly wealthy so that I have the freedom to do what I want to do”

My answer to this – of course is “Why not just do what you want to do?”

Some will start a business and work in it for 10 years, with the aim to sell it to make money to be independently wealthy so that they can do what they always wanted to do….

Presumably they just spent 10 years doing something that they did not want to do…

Is it unrealistic to just do what makes you happy? You might say that it doesn’t pay the bills…. well maybe you should work on having smaller bills?

There’s not much financial security in reading books for a living <which has my vote as a career choice…> but actually there are hundreds of people around the world that get paid to read books, they’re called reviewers, or editors….

You want to be more creative? Why not create stuff instead of watching Coronation street tonight?

I have an answer, if you have the question…

Posted by: eileenandrory | May 13, 2010

Has texting replaced the art of conversation?

So I was privileged to see an excellent Toastmaster speech about how damaging cell phones and texting can be, he also spoke a little about Twitter parties. 

 <it’s been a week since I started this post, and now I have forgotten the premise>

But I think it had something to do with sulky teenage / early 20 year olds not having the communication skills to live in the modern world. 

I got to see our fantastic Mayor today talk virtually off the cuff on the art of speech craft. He mentioned a study he was involved in which they found that the vocal cords would still respond even if you were not reading aloud, because it is a trained response. 

As we are growing up we learn to read by vocalising the words, when we read aloud we learn that much faster. 

How limited is your vocabulary going to be if you stop using your voice, and limit your ideas to 140 characters? 

It led me to thinking about how in business my colleagues and I often email each other rather than talk about the issues, or Ej will text when conversation would save time. 

So has text ruined the art of conversation? I did an earlier post on Facebook ruining conversation, but seeing texters operate brings new insight into the phenomenon. 

Surly teenagers didn’t need an excuse to be uncommunicative, but now they have one. 

What about ‘texters thumb’? RSI for a new generation. 

Worse still what happens to communication in a power  outage?

Posted by: eileenandrory | April 27, 2010

The wonders of Facebook

See here, some people would have you think that Facebook is a waste of time, no good comes from it, and you shouldn’t spend so much time playing online games anyway.

But have I got a story for you…

On occasion I get friend requests from cousins that I have never heard of before, this is not unusual because my mums family is quite large, and as is typical with large Indian families there is a diaspora and family members can be found all around the world.

About 6 months ago I got a friend request from someone not from my mums side of the family, the request was from Ana, and she is a cousin from my Fathers side of the family…

At this stage you’re going to need some background because you may be wondering why this is unusual.

Well I have not met my father.  I was a baby when my parents split up.

I have to admit that when my thoughts did turn to my father I went through the full range of emotions, anger, regret etc… Recently however <and it probably has something to do with being a father myself> I believe I have mellowed out and so this friend request came at the right time.

Once I heard from Ana, I guess I got curious, and Ej did to. In fact she went all CSI and dug into my family background.

Ana got me an email address and so after much deliberation I typed up an email laying out my life, and I sent it to him.

It bounced back, the email address was wrong.

3 months later, I still had not done anything.

Last week though I decided it was time to stop prevaricating, and on Friday I decided to call him. Saturday came, and I got all nervous, Sydney is 2 hours behind so I had a few hours for the nerves to build. Ej had of course found his work phone number and encouraged me to call.

I made the phone call, and found out from the receptionist that Dr Alexander was busy, “This is Mrs Alexander, would I like to leave a message?” I freaked out! Told her my name was ‘Dave’ and I would try again later.

 Doh!

After I calmed down, Ej convinced me to call back and to let Mrs Alexander know who I was, she put me straight through, at which point I started babbling to him.

What I didn’t realise was, that he was with a patient. He asked me for a return phone number, and told me he would call me back.

What a tense time that was.

He finally called me and we had what seemed like a reserved 10 minute conversation, which left me a little bit deflated. Saying that he gave me his email address, so I decided to win him over with some photo’s of the kids.

Then Ej suggested he might have been reserved because he did not know what my motivations where, at which point I wrote another email saying my motivations where benign and I was more curious that anything.

A tense couple of days later, and I finally get a response, a short email, but still a response. I’m not sure how to feel, but it certainly makes life interesting.

In the meantime I have befriended my little brother and one of his sisters on facebook, but I am yet to hear from my sister.

Now that is going to take getting used to, I have been an only child for 38 years, that sort of change is mind-blowing….

Posted by: eileenandrory | April 23, 2010

hannah arendt

“Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act, but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together”

Scuse the pun, but this is a powerful statement. It sounds so obvious yet until I read this I did not really understand the concept. It’s not the people at the top that are powerful, it’s the organisation that they sit upon.

I’m not going into all of her works, but she defines or rather makes a meaningful distinction between ‘power, strength, force, violence and authority’ I would urge you to read her works.

Posted by: eileenandrory | April 20, 2010

Volcano’s

Despite all the inconvenience (to others not me) I have to say that the Icelandic volcano event can only be looked at in a positive light.

You know it is true.

Some of the busiest airports in the world shutdown, people forced to take a holiday, business put on hold, the topic of conversation for the week and think og the green advantages!

Jet fuel usage must have dropped considerably. People where forced to take landbased transport meaning they got to take a little more time out to reflect.

Experts project a 0.5 degree in temps, which could be a good thing considering the global warming situation.

I bet a lot of organisations got to implement their disaster recovery plans too!

It’s funny that this event could cause such mayhem, in our highly technological world.

For us in NZ it should be a wake up call. NZ sits upon 7 volcanos, and a drive around the Auckland harbour gives you a nice view of Rangitoto which would be impressive indeed if it erupted.

It’s a sobering thought.

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