Have Been Thinking About My Rule Against Praying Lately

When I was a freshman in high school, our first three basketball games were nail biters – two of them went into overtime and a third was decided with one second left.  In our final timeout in each of the three, I prayed for god to make me a hero of the game.  I actually prayed as Jesus instructed in the bible, something along the lines of telling God you believe anything can be accomplished if he wills it (I forgot the exact wording).  The first time I did this, I sank 5 out of 6 free throws in the final minute of the game to seal the victory.  The second time I stole an inbounds pass with 6 seconds left, was fouled as I raced for a lay up, and buried both free throws with one second left to break a tie game and beat our nemesis.  The third time, I buried four free throws in the final minute of overtime to win the game a third time.  I remember the morning after the third game, my dad saying, “I used to dream about winning a game with last minute free throws, and you’ve done it three games in a row.”

But I felt guilty.  I felt guilty about praying for something so trivial as being the hero in a freshman basketball game.  So, after the third time, when I was actually a little weirded out and to this day (although I am no longer spiritual or religious) I still wonder how that could be coincidence, I promised never to pray for anything specific again.  Instead, if I pray, I pray for strength and courage to deal with what comes.  And although I for sure had good games after those three games, I never again sank a last minute winning free throw (in fact, I missed a free throw that would have ended a tie game in the playoffs the next season, although luckily we won in the overtime period).

The last couple of years have been relatively difficult in my career.  I’ve worked for three awful companies in a row, and am now struggling to get into my stated goal of getting into a winning company, ironically because of the poor reputation of my last companies.  And I keep feeling the temptation of praying again, like I did that one year, but I will resist the urge and will continue to knock on wood, do my best and hope that things work in my favor.

It’s important to keep a promise, even when tempted 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Have Been Thinking About My Rule Against Praying Lately

Crazy times in USA continue

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

It would take a fool to not think the Russian’s tinkered with our election, North Korea is challenging our new administration with Nuclear tests, Trump is claiming Obama wiretapped him, some nuts in GOP (Ryan, etc.) have proposed Obamacare light, there have been racist attacks even in the state of Washington (a lynching!! and anti-semite activity) and Trump is cutting everything away from all government agencies except immigration control (ICE) and military.  It is a f***ing crazy world right now, as crazy as I remember it since the early 1980s when the US was in financial decline and we all believed the world was doomed to nuclear war.  I’m grateful lung disease has erased my anxiety – it would be a crazy world otherwise.

Crazy times in USA continue

Loving “The Americans” Season 3

Wife M and I have resumed watching American’s Season 3.  It’s a bold and captivating season, where they’ve told Paige they are Russian spies (whoa!) and Philip is tortured (he has developed feelings for Lois, kills and sets up an innocent FBI worker :(, attends a singles therapy group, is attacking Gabriel, etc.).  The last episode, where Philip reveals himself to Lois, and where Paige tells the pastor her parents are Russian spies was brilliantly bold.  I also loved the camera work in the doomed FBI techy’s apartment…  I can’t wait to watch the next episode.

Loving “The Americans” Season 3

Mulholland Drive an awesome movie

I watched Mulholland Drive (2001) for the first time last night.  Sensational.  Strange, beautiful, intriguing, mysterious and deep.  Follows a beautiful young woman suffering from Amnesia, her new friend trying to help her remember, a hip movie director fighting off corruption/extortion, and a rugged hit man before suddenly pivoting and showing all the same characters in a new way.

There is lots of debate about the movie’s meaning (with some warnings not to think too hard), but I believe it is Diane/Betty’s brief journey in hell, almost a post-death dream.  The movie opens up with swing dancers then an imposed image of Betty smiling before cutting to the presumed doom of Camilla (preceded by imposed car lights within car lights, like  a dream within a dream).  When Betty steps off the plane with the old couple, when everything is dreamy and pink, then the old couple drive off with demonic laughter (they reappear later) makes me think they are imps; other imps is the god-like figure controlling the fate of the director we learn later was a source of Diane’s jealousy.  So many other things: the blue in the background, the pink paint splatters (like Betty’s pink sweater, lipstick, flowers, etc.) keep reinforcing my belief that Betty is dead and is being shown a new fate.  The dream wakes up with “Wake up little lady” by the Cowboy.  Such a wonderful movie – like Point Blank (earlier) meets Drive (later) and Neon Demons (later).

I’d love to go back and watch the scene with Bob the Director, where he seems to spout nonsense that maybe isn’t nonsense taken in context of everything else.

I *loved* the casting all the way around.  (I’ve always thought a Grace Kelly and a young Jude Law were the most beautiful people I’ve seen on screen – Laura Harring is on par with them.  The camera loved her physical beauty).

Mulholland Drive an awesome movie

Learning how to “better” manage brain fog

For me, there are many crummy things about chronic illness, but the second worst of them all — after fatigue — is brain fog, i.e. the much harder challenge of keeping a clear thought.

Time was before my illness that my brain would whir to life and I could quickly motor off anything I needed to.  Ask me the strategy to something, and I’d leap up on the whiteboard and starting jotting ideas down.  But now, keeping clear thoughts is difficult. Answering any question that requires me to go into the memory bank is a challenge, and anything with some uncertainty or complexity is a challenge unless I have time to process.  Spelling?  I used to be great, because I would literally picture the word in my head and recite what I saw, but now I don’t see the word and am kind of stabbing in the dark.

Needless to say, this has made my job as an analytical sales person in a cutthroat industry hell.  But I think I’ve developed a list over the past few years that has helped. I’m not 100%, or even 90%, but I’m getting better and I’v adapted.

Checklist in OneNote.  OneNote is good because it’s free and I can access it from my computer, iPad or iPhone.  What I do is make a checklist of each item at the office I have to get down, then I break it down to how much time to spend on it.  For example: Answer emails – respond during morning coffee.  Send out follow up reports from yesterday – 30 minutes.  Send out status check note to 500 customers – 20 customers a day…  I’ve noticed this is important – I’ll lose paper lists, or I start moving things around until it gets messy (I can cut and paste); also, I can keep a template that I copy and paste into a new Tab every day so every day I am starting with a fresh checklist.  Plus, my razor sharp memory no where I was on a task has evaporated, so now I can search in OneNote to find out what I’ve done on something.

Stick with the Checklist.  It is tempting that if I come to complexity in my checklist to pass it off until later.  For example, if “Respond to email” includes an email that involves research, my temptation is to push it aside until later the day.  But I’ve learned I need to take a short break, grab another cup of coffee, return and take the steps needed to complete that email.  If I push it off, I start to get overwhelmed and fight the urge to shut down.  So even it means taking a pause while I gather my energy, I do nothing else until complete that next task.

One Thing At A Time.  My days of answering email while on a conference call, or making a phone call while waiting for my computer to re-boot, are over.  So I have to focus on one thing at a time.

Take Breaks.  The days of crazy 12 hour days are over.  I have to take several breaks during the day to make sure I maintain the energy needed to keep brain fog at bay.

Accept the Inevitable.  I will never be as crisp, sharp and productive as I once was.  I can’t compare myself to the old me, which thankfully was 200% of most people (honestly).  Instead, I have to focus on doing the best I can with what I have now.  I this were a five-card poker me, the old me had six cards to choose from, the new me has 4 cards to work with (versus everyone else’s 5).  I can’t worry that I used to have 6 or that some have 5, I just have to do the best I can with 4 and realize that I won’t win as much as I used to. That takes some pressure off.

Lots and lots of coffee.  There is no way of getting around the fact that coffee is the new normal for me at the workplace.  If there are side effects so be it, but I have to have the energy needed to keep my job and pay my bills.  On the days where I need an extra burst of energy, I take a caffeine pill and pray for a “good” day.

My two cents.  Since life gave me lemons, I’m doing the best i can to make a decent lemonade.  (I’ve had to relearn how to do my to do list – I used to do it mostly by memory and prioritization, but that’s not possible anymore, and too long of a checklist is overwhelming 🙂 ).

 

 

Learning how to “better” manage brain fog

Somehow I was good at passing into the post without realizing it.

Our 9th and 10th grade basketball teams were good.  We went like 7-4 in 9th grade, then returned all those players in 10th grade to go undefeated and win the tournament.  What I remember most from those years was having two good big men: Tom and Matt.  Tom was taller than most, but more importantly he was wide and quick with a good bank shot.  Matt was much taller than everyone else and had a low shooting percentage but often would get his own rebound until he could put the ball into the hoop.  We weren’t taught to do this, but I learned (I think from watching so much basketball) to feed them; I’d sit at the top of the key and wait for them to jostle enough to get open then throw it in.  WIth Tom, I’d throw the ball to his open arm, just off his shoulder, so he could catch and swivel away from the defender for a bank shot.  For Matt, I’d throw it straight in but high.  I remember getting a lot of assists that way.  

I was a really good outside shot but used that shot selectively (rarely), since there was no three point line and we were always taught to take close shots.  The times I shot from beyond 17′ feet I was called a gunner or told to pass inside.  Except one time, we had a substitute coach and he called time part way into the game and called us together – “you need to take advantage of Robert’s outside shot” he told the team.  I still remember and appreciate that, the only time in youth basketball where I was encouraged to shoot from outside.  A few kids made comments that I was a much bettter 1 on 1 player than a league player, but that was because I could shoot when and whre I wanted without getting pulled from the game or hollered at. :). It is why I always did so much better on the playgrounds all the way thorugh college.

Somehow I was good at passing into the post without realizing it.

Confessions of an “always late” person

I am always late. Usually 10 minutes, almost to the minute.  When something is very very important and a special event (e.g. Interview) I am on time, but otherwise I am late.  I think one of the reasons why is because I am results focused.  That is, when I sit down to do something, I hate leaving it just to move on to an appointment.  For example, if I am composing an email and it is 10:50 and I need to leave for an 11 o’clock meeting, I hate leaving that chore for later, since inevitably more emails pop up and I’m worried about losing my focus and train of thought. So usually I finish the email, then I am late to the meeting and people complain (usually as a passive aggressive tease or behind my back later 🙂 ).  But no one mentions when I am late how I also tend to be a *lot* more productive than 99% of the people.

I don’t like being in a society where we judge literally by the minute versus completing a task.  But it is the way of the world.  So the world will just have to wait for me sometimes :). And I’ll just have to tolerate the criticism.  After all, lets’s be honest, I am 48 and I’ve been like this my whole life – if I haven’t changed by now I’m not going to.

On a side note, I am rarely sick or call in sick or miss things – but I am late to them.    

Confessions of an “always late” person