Thursday, November 8, 2007

Special Surprise Gift (NOT)

Yesterday brought the house down. For my eldest child, a performer of long standing, that would be a really good review to receive of something she had done on stage.

For me, the house that was brought down was the one I am building made of days during which I have met the challenge of no complaining/whining/gossiping/criticizing. I had progressed to the point that yesterday was Day Three (the days are consecutive, so dropping back means starting at Day, for example, TODAY), and I was most of the way through my workday. Actually, I should have already departed, but I was doing my best to complete a couple of items for people who were waiting for those tasks to be done, so I was late heading out the door.

I had noticed that my peace bubble was mostly effective, but as the day wore on, there were some dimples in the bubble. Those of you with peace bubbles know that this is not a good sign!

Whether it was partly an accumulation of things I had only partly dealt with in the previous days or just the stuff of yesterday, I experienced a meltdown when someone came to me with a problem just as I was packing up to leave. She had not followed our oft-published protocol for how to report a problem, and she would not listen as I asked that she do so. She literally talked over the top of me, as I politely asked her to email us so we had her issue in our system.

I did not handle it well. Hell's bells...I did not handle it at all. I'm sure I was quite red-faced in finally convincing that person (as she was attempting, for the fifth time, to tell me why she was not required to follow our support protocol) to LEAVE ME ALONE.

To put this in perspective, what I was asking of her was to send a one-sentence email message.

What I got (and what I created--this I know) was a perfect-storm end of the day. I had several things to take care of after work, was running behind, and had two different fire trucks interrupt the traffic cycle at two different intersections as I was getting around to get my errands done. In Denver, if you happen to be pointed the right direction when a fire truck comes by, you get the luxury of a very long green light. I was on the opposite side of that lucky traffic direction, both times. So, I was sitting for minutes as the traffic lights figured out that the truck was now three miles down the road, so time to return to normal function.

All things running late, I did not get the time I needed as my alone time. I'm basically a pretty introverted person who can really cut loose with friends, but needs time to regain my center after a day at work. I finally grabbed a few minutes, only to discover there was a chore which required my attention involving getting dinner ready. It was one of those dense, large vegetables which needed to magically become one-inch cubes. How does one cube an elephant-sized vegetable? Quite ten minutes or so, with lots of elbow grease.

No human beings were harmed in the cubing of this vegetable! For me, one who does this kind of thing through force of will, having had no training or much practice in doing such a chore, it meant feeling like I had just done an aerobic workout. The zen of the task failed to penetrate the state I was in.

There were other, smaller episodes which would have easily been allowed to simply roll off my back, but with all reserves drained, instead got to me.

It is now a new day. Day One.

What did I learn yesterday? My peace bubble is a good idea, but I need to have some more active processing for getting the crap out of my system. It was the buildup of little things which got me to the point that I had my perfect-storm end of the day yesterday.

I think my Day One and Day Two which qualified as passing the test may have been in need of some cleaning out of the crap traps which didn't happen. So, I was more vulnerable on Day Three, and it showed.

This is all a mind game, but it's the only game in town for me. I totally grok the "only now...only now...and, now" philosophy. That being said, I am not a guru who lives 100% of the time NOW. I'm a regular joe who deals with the stuff as it comes up, and either lets go of it or stuffs it for a Special Surprise Gift (NOT) later on. When I stuff things, the "gift" I get once it is delivered is not pretty or fun, or even nice-smelling.

Sometimes, I honestly believe I have let go of an issue or event, only to find the Special Surprise Gift (NOT) delivered to me days later. So, more mindfulness to letting go. More mindfulness to breathing (thanks, Kelly!). More mindfulness to being right where I am, right this moment. And now. And now. More care in protecting the places in my day when I have carved out time to allow the mind to gradually come to ease. And, more attention to flowing with things (see http:\\ rather than attempting to impose my vision on them.

So, here on Day Eleven, I begin again. As Patti says, not as punishment, but as gift.


Jane said...

Glad to hear that you are still willing to keep starting over with new efforts. A couple of times lately when someone or something pisses me off, I have found myself SO near the edge of a verbal lashing and then I remind myself to stop and just let it go. My boss, such a wise and amazing woman, taught me the concept of "seek first to understand". So often people are going through something stessful and it comes out in the way they communicate. If I realize that there could be something unspoken that they are not saying, it makes it easier for me to give it up.

Kikipotamus said...

I know exactly what you mean. For me the key thing you said was about imposing your vision on it, my vision on it. Almost all my suffering comes from my having painted a picture of what the future SHOULD look like.

I used to work right up to the last minute, leaving myself just barely time to race down the stairs, across the street and catch the bus.

When I stood up to put my coat on was when a dear friend and coworker chose to start asking me questions. Sigh. My suffering came from having ordered the future to be what I wanted it to be: me sailing out the door. Once I stopped expecting that and started allowing time for this sweet woman to ask me all her questions, the resentment in me melted away. Other times I learned to politely say, "Sorry, my bus is coming."

ladybug said...

In many ways a lot of what we learn in theater is applicable to real life. After reading your blog and the struggle I have just a couple of 'notes' to give you. The main one: the wobble isn't interesting....the recovery is.

the wobble refers to times on the stage (of life) where we forget our lines, our blocking, our motivation and things go wrong...the set falls over, our pants end up around our ankles...and you lose your place. It is in that moment that you have the power to grab an audience (the rest of us that exist in the world with you) and win them over by how you recover.

And at times all you can do is if follow the three step plan back to where you need to be:
1. take a deep breath
2. lower your center (get out of your head and the loud sounds your mind is trying to make)
3. focus on the next moment only.

Enjoy the gift of starting from day one! :)

Rick Hamrick said...

Ladies--Thanks so much for the wisdom and encouragement.

Jane--your boss is saying just what I need to hear today: let the other person's drama have a voice. It's the letting go of my own internal drama which becomes less easy as the intensity of the drama builds. The answer, of course, is defusing it long before that point.

Kelly--that reality-vs-my-vision suffering is, also, a letting go issue. Just like the "letting go of the rope" analogy.

Monique--thanks for the notes! And I never even knew I had a director, much less a role. I love the stage analogy--it's what you do with the reality you are faced with which matters in the moment, not how much you regret that the reality is not the one you planned on!

The one part of yesterday's experience which was reinforcement for me was recognizing my breathing and consciously feeling it slow and deepen when I paid attention. That's now almost automatic when I feel stress: breathe, breathe, breathe.

Now, on to the next moment!

Olivia said...

Thank you for sharing all of this, Rick. I admire you for getting so far in your process and your commitment to creating a complaint-free world. This is an important lesson that I can learn from.

I'm still playing around at the margins of this challenge and not really diving in, thus not reaping the hard good lessons that lead to real change. I'm using the excuse of not having my bracelet yet to remind me, but I'm missing out on all of this 'good stuff'.

Your post has inspired me about missed opportunities and I'm going for it today, with a rubber band around my wrist. It's too hard to watch from the sidelines when such cool things are going on as your post described.

Thank you, Rick,

Love, blessings, and a complaint-free day,


Rick Hamrick said...

Olivia--whatever you decide it takes, I'm looking forward to seeing your feedback on creating a complaint-free world.

In my opinion, it is an adventure worthy of you, and we who are participating will all gain from you doing so, too!