Freedom from the cube


The view from outside the cube.

It has been six months since being liberated from a cube in an office setting that I often found limiting and, at times, downright painful.

I left the comfort of a steady paycheck and 100% insurance coverage to save my life—literally. I knew if I tried to stay there I would not survive mentally or physically. Living with myasthenia gravis and a few other autoimmune issues has made me realize that I have to be my own caretaker, advocate, personal attendant, nap enforcer, chef, and employer.

Yes, it has been challenging financially and mentally, but the payoff has been a lot less stress of the office/bureaucratic kind and the freedom to work from my sofa, a café, a picnic table in the park, and wherever else my heart desires. I was determined to remain in the same line of work I’ve been in, but do it on my terms. It’s working! It’s been a slow start but a slow start is better than no start. Yes, I’m playing catchup with a few bills that fell behind during the income lapse, but I’ll eventually be back on schedule.

I have not experienced an ounce of guilt about having to lie down due to sudden weakness or fatigue while in the middle of a project. I don’t have to ask my supervisor if it’s okay for me to leave for the afternoon because I’m not feeling well. I now simply set my laptop aside, grab a pillow and lie on the couch  or walk to my bed and fall into a slumber for however long. As long as I meet a deadline for a project, it doesn’t matter if it’s done in one- or two-hour+ chunks. It will be completed.

I was sitting and working for a couple of hours in a café last week when an elderly man came in and ordered a mocha. He sat across from me. We ended up chatting. He told me that he thought it was really neat how so many people could work in different locations now. He said back in his day you were tied to your desk in an office. I commented that it’s nice actually being able to choose your “coworkers” with this type of setup. In an office, you’re stuck next to the annoying coworker who talks too loud or who interrupts you from a deep concentration for no real reason. In a café, you can plug in your headphones and ignore the people around you and not be concerned with being interrupted. At home, unless you have unruly family members or other housemates, it’s a pleasant environment free from distractions.

Working from home is not for everyone. Some people MUST have social interaction. I have plenty of interaction with the people for whom I’m contracting/consulting as well as my break periods when I text, email, and wander the hallways of social media. I’m not lonely nor bored. It’s PERFECT!

Here’s to freedom from a cube and continuing a forward march.

PS: MG seems to be liking this lifestyle. I haven’t had to punch it in the face lately. 🙂

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign …

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign …

This morning before heading to my “remote office” (Starbucks), I really needed to feel inspired to work on one of the projects I’ve been working on for a couple of months for someone. It’s a project in alignment with the business I’ve been establishing. Anyway, I have tons of books. Books on myriad subjects: music and musicians, geography, emergency services and safety, architecture, history, gardening, travel, various languages, a few random books of fiction, spirituality, physics, astronomy… the list continues. Anyway, I like to randomly pick up a book and turn to a page to read and see if there are any “messages” for me. I rarely come away without some sort of message — it’s sometimes vague, but usually applicable to whatever I’m seeking. Today, I just needed something to encourage me with the task ahead.

The book I picked up this morning is an autobiography by my favorite musician, producer, and songwriter Daniel Lanois—Soul Mining: A Musical Life. It’s a fun read and inspiring, as well as a bit of a technical treasure for those of us into such things. Well, I turned to pages 52-53 where he goes from talking about a Mini Moog (synthesizer) to talking about the arrangement of speakers in exhibit halls to recalling Canadian hotel gigs back in the day, one of which was a hotel in Sturgeon Falls where he found a large, coiled rope anchored to the floor. It was to be used to help you escape out the room window in the event of a fire.

Of all the pages to turn to in this book, I turn to the one paragraph that is related to emergency preparedness! The inspiration I needed to work on my project of the same subject! Thank you Daniel! BTW, the rope for use as an escape tool is so not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act! But I digress, kind of. 🙂

The first sign of the day.

The first sign of the day.

I had to stop downtown to pick up mail at the post office before heading to my remote office. As I left the post office, I spotted several military guys in uniform walking up to the capitol building for some sort of ceremony. Another sign!

I make it to my remote office; order a new tea (I don’t drink coffee). I’ve been hooked on their chai forever, but was encouraged recently to try something new by the dapper cashier. (The tea choice was so good, I could’ve kissed that man!) This morning’s choice: Blackberry mojito green tea with lemonade. Awesome! Anyway, I found a cozy seat in the corner and started working. I love feeling productive. As I was halfway through what I was working on, a guy sat next to me in a uniform. He was a paramedic! Another sign!

The signs or good omens are always around pointing us in the direction of inspiration and hope. Let’s see what else I can find today. 🙂

Redirecting the Ship

I’ve faced many challenges throughout my 40 years of life. Some of them have been self-imposed while most others have come from the great beyond. I like a good challenge, but I’ve been seriously questioning the ones I’ve been facing over the last few years. I mean, I’ve not had one single break. I can’t even say I’ve been able to actually stand up to most of the challenges.

There are people who say to me that they’re amazed at how I’ve dealt with things. I laugh because I think they’re joking. I sure as hell do not feel I’ve been dealing with things in the best way. In general, I’ve swayed back and forth between being optimistic and being the worst pessimist. I sometimes hide the pessimist from some of the people who see me every day just because I know that’s how they prefer things. They don’t want to hear the negative, pissy side of my thoughts. So, I smile and give off a things-are-kinda-ok-today vibe. Deep down I’m angry, upset, and keep questioning why I’m having to deal with what I consider an unfair amount of crap on my plate!

Sometimes I’m able to look at the world around me and see that there are people who are in worse shape than me. Other days, I don’t see them. I just see the chaotic world I’m living in.  Not all of this is based on myasthenia gravis (MG). I have other health issues I’ve been dealing with for many years, plus I’ve battled PTSD from various life incidents. I’ve been working my way through those things—thank God for therapists and EMDR (google EMDR if you don’t know what it is).

In general, I’ve always performed well at any and all jobs I’ve had. I pick things up quickly and charge forward. That hasn’t been the case with my current place of employment thanks to the health challenges and an environment of extreme favoritism, cliques, thin skins, and endless roadblocks.

Overcoming challenges, according to some, makes us stronger and well equipped to survive. I have another theory and that is when one challenge after another after another and another hit you, perhaps it’s the universe’s way of trying to get your attention and tell you that you need to steer your ship in a different direction…you’re on the wrong course. Hmmm…

I changed courses career-wise a few years ago when I decided to trade in my life of journalism/editing/proofreading to fully focus on the world of emergency management. I had been volunteering in that realm for a few years and thought I’d make it official and work on a Master’s degree in the field. What lead up to that sudden change in course was a series of roadblocks and challenges that were coming at me from many directions at the time. I had experienced my first and only layoff, I was being hit by major financial challenges, things were going south—again—with my health, etc. etc. There really wasn’t anything I could do to fix any of those things so I had to change course.

I’m now finding myself in that same position today. I love the field in which I work, but where I work isn’t working for me. I can’t change one single thing about the place or my position in it. My health is not cutting me any slack to even make more attempts to change things on the work front. I have zero desire to work for anyone else except for myself.

I’ve worked for myself before and enjoyed it. I was very young and had a lot more energy, but I did not have the discipline to pace myself so I started burning out and had to bow out and take orders from someone else. I can’t say I have that level of energy these days, but I do have the discipline to pace myself. With that said, I’m no longer looking for another employer. I’m looking at these “idea seeds” the universe has been planting in my head for a while now. If I nurture them and allow them to grow, I’ll be able to be my own boss again and be able to do the things I enjoy doing the most—helping others. I’ll also be helping myself for a change. I’m not going into detail on what these idea seeds are, but I’ll say one of them is related to my current career, the other is completely out in left field, while another one, which was planted a few days ago, ties together my past with my present.

Now, if I can stop getting in my own way, this looks to be a very interesting journey ahead. My life has never been boring and I’m not about to let it become boring now. Take that MG!