Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Moving Forward

June 11, 2017

If I were required to give a theme to my present set of priorities, it would be what I’ve taken as the title of this post – moving forward. Not necessarily by conscious choice, and not without some rather bumpy road to traverse. Rather, recognizing that the bumps are jostling my state of equilibrium and pushing it towards a new place, way of perceiving/being.

Not coincidentally, this is my marriage anniversary period, and also the start of a new way, for me, of accessing the “larger world” of technology, Internet, etc. Coming from a weekend MasterPath seminar with my spiritual teacher into a dramatic challenge, on Monday, of the theft of my purse, with driver’s license, credit cards and phone necessitated an immediate implementation of the lessons reinforced on Sunday. Regaining the critical items – driver’s license and phone – by Wednesday, through the attentiveness and caring of three strangers, demonstrated to me how protected I am from any serious harm.  Experiencing also the thoughtless and even ugly corporate responses of Walmart, MVD and La Quinta has pointed me toward engagement with “speaking Truth to power” that I have avoided in recent years. Moving forward in this arena means being clear in my intention, such that there is no anger in my communication. I’m not out to force changes that somehow “put things right”, only to point out clearly the values which are being trashed by blind corporate policy. If changes result, find. If they do not, so be it. I’m not attached to the outcome, only to the truth.

Being without my phone for most of a week was enlightening. I was made tangibly aware of the extent to which I have come to rely on it for access to news, as well as for the distracting pastime of playing various solitaire game. I already knew that I needed better access to email and various internet sites – including this one – and that I would have to get some sort of replacement for the recently deceased laptop I had been using. Without really any research, I went to Best Buy and came out with a Chromebook. It fits my financial limitations, and seems to actually fit my needs well, if I can just figure out how it works! Being old school and accustomed to printed materials, I feel the lack of a manual to teach me how to use such a different device. It helps that I’ve decided it’s about half way between a smart phone and a laptop. At least I have a frame of reference for thinking my way through accomplishing necessary functions. I have not yet figured out how to print a web page, if that is even possible? Yes, I know I can access manual sections on line, and will have to do so for the time being. And I can also use my husband’s computer (when he’s not busy on it) to find and print the manual. So why do those options feel unsatisfactory? Obviously, because they represent yet another way in which I am being pushed to move forward, away from familiar methods of doing things and onward into the new world order.

Caring without being attached, trusting without fear of being misled, speaking out without anger or other negative emotions, communicating clearly but without engagement with results… all avenues for moving forward into yet another new way of being, implementing yet another level of the fascinating path of spiritual evolution.

Thanks be.

 

I Know What I Like

February 19, 2017

I sent an email to my (very understanding) supervisor recently, expressing my deep reservations about a proposed move to video visits being pushed by upper management. Not that I don’t know how to adapt my interviews to a video format, but I live in a region of limited Internet connectivity and the people with whom I am expected to conduct these visits have neither the technology nor the money to acquire the technology to participate. Most run out of minutes on flip phones before the end of each month.

More importantly, to my mind, is a concern for the disappearance of meaningful interpersonal connections. Too many of us now live in isolated bubbles, glued to smart phones and tablets, Googling for answers to test questions instead of reading and learning and thinking things through for ourselves. Too many of us can be seen sitting with others, everyone with his or her head down staring at a screen. Too many of us spend too much time “connected” only with those who visit the same websites, think the same thoughts, agree with whatever we say, and take righteous offense if anyone contradicts the group’s predetermined set of beliefs.

I’m not originating these thoughts – some of them I read in an analysis by Eric Francis, astrologer and writer and producer of PlanetWaves. Some I heard during an interview with a journalist scorned by his liberal peers for writing a biographical piece on Milo Yiannopoulos. The journalist’s original position was a sort of “know thine enemy” belief that one cannot effectively implement programs or persuade others who hold different views, if one hasn’t heard enough of those views to discover where there may be common ground upon which to build a successful compromise, or a persuasive argument for a different outcome.

I’m reminded of a speaker brought to my college campus in the early 1960s. Once a week the entire campus was gathered for Collection, to hear a presentation meant to give us food for reflection. Attendance was mandatory. One spring morning, the speaker was a South African government official who presented a defense of apartheid to an audience almost entirely composed of supporters of the civil rights movement then actively unfolding in the United States. Some students made an initial effort to block the speech, primarily because of the mandated attendance. The school administrators insisted that we hear the official’s viewpoint “in order to understand how best to argue against and counter it.” The speaker presented a closely reasoned and very persuasive argument in support of separation of races that could only be countered, I realized, by catching – and taking apart – his implicit assumption that people are more comfortable “with their own kind” and that race is a necessary and sufficient condition for dividing kinds of people. He only verbalized the comfortable with one’s own part of the premise; the racial implications corollary was never stated. In case you didn’t take logic in school, the speaker implied but never stated that in and of itself skin color creates an unbridgeable gap between people such that I as a Caucasian can never be the same kind of person as anyone with a Negroid complexion.

Had I not heard the South African speaker, I might never have been able to pinpoint the unstated assumptions on which so many people base their objections to the sort of social integration that has been experienced in the past 40 years in the US. And had I not heard that speaker, I probably would not have grown in my own ability to reach across very real differences, to find common ground with people whose views are significantly different from my own. I have friends, good and caring people, who support the newly elected Congress and President. I don’t agree with their political views, but I also cannot fault their day to day treatment of neighbors, nor their commitment to good education, appropriate care for the needy, and fair treatment for all.

The devil is in the details, as they say, and one of the details seems to be that we as a nation have lost the capacity to relate to anyone different from ourselves. How many people, now, would object to the statement that “people are more comfortable surrounded by those like themselves”? How many of us choose to go outside our “comfort zones” or our technologically reinforced personal bubbles to listen to, interact with, care about those whom we perceive as different from ourselves?

The journalist who was scorned for writing about Yiannopoulos had called himself a liberal, but reacted to their scorn by redefining himself as a “new conservative.” Not that he changed his own values, but that he perceives today’s “strident” liberals as unable to listen, unable to discuss, unable to tolerate different viewpoints from their own. They have become, he claims, just like the alt-right in that both sides are equally intolerant.

A Quaker friend (a Friend friend) of mine recently raised the question of how to reach out to those whose views differ from our own, in order to better understand steps to take to heal the growing divide which he sees as threatening to tear our democracy apart. I found myself wanting to answer “shut down the social media sites, turn off the Net, create an environment, at least for a week, that will force people to actually see and talk to and listen to one another. Don’t replace in person visits with video visits, don’t require doctors to focus on data entry into a computer when they should be listening to their patients. Don’t allow objectors to prevent a speech, however unpleasant the views of the speaker. And don’t let implicit assumptions about similarity and difference slip by unquestioned.

It may be true that we are generally most comfortable with those like ourselves. What matters is how we define the phrase, like ourselves. I remember that I used to say the only thing about which I am intolerant is intolerance. I suspect that is still true. Intolerance, to me, means lack of respect for the humanity of another. I need to ask myself whether I can respect the humanity of a bigot. Can I find that of God in a hater? I found it in killers who were my students when I taught in the NM Penitentiary. I have certainly found it in those friends referred to earlier, whose political views are so different from my own. If I can do so, it does NOT mean I accept anyone’s right to act on bigotry and hatred. But if I can do so, I think I’ll have a better chance of diverting the haters from implementing their bigoted agenda.

 

Passing

July 4, 2016

One aspect of the current inter-connectivity of social life that I’ve noticed, without being able to integrate it into my sense of place in the world, is how the absence of someone from that ethereal network can become a prominent feature of daily existence. Over the past 18 months I developed a relationship with Cheryl, following her blog at Artzzle, as she followed mine here. Through comments on postings, we got to know each other a bit – certainly as well as I know some of my coworkers in my day job, given that we all work from our respective home offices and only meet in person on a quarterly basis for training events. Cheryl has been “offline” for several months now; one of her last posts mentioned awaiting the results of pending medical tests, without specifying whether they were her own or for a family member. I can only suppose the news was not good, and that there is now no room for blogging in Cheryl’s life. I don’t know if she still reads my posts – or if she is totally off line and not able to know that I would offer support if I could reach her.

Upon reflection, the tenuousness of this sort of online link is not greater than that I have with face to face (or at least phone call to phone call) friends who live in distant places and whom I only see a few times a year, if that. When we do get together, or have a long phone conversation, the friendship seems not to have suffered any interruption. And I think we take for granted that it will continue as well into the future. Only rarely, as some years ago, have I been brought up short by the discovery, after the fact, that the other person is gone. Not just out of touch, but out of this world, moved on to another plane of existence without my having an opportunity to say goodbye, or even to know that a transition was impending.

It has been the pattern of my life that my closest friends are not usually found in my physical proximity. Partially, perhaps, because for the first half of my life I moved around so often. Although I’ve now lived many years in one location, the majority of my close friendships continue to be with people who live elsewhere. Not sure why, not sure that why matters.

What does matter is that all these relationships – physical or online – have inherent within them the risk of an ending occurring without my knowing about it. My discomfort is not that there is an ending – that is inevitable – but that the other person can cease to be and I not know it for months or even years.

When my father died, some thirty years ago, I knew that – like me – he had friends all around the world with whom he stayed in contact by letter and phone. I didn’t know who those people were, but I projected from my own sense of ‘wanting to know’ that they would also care to be told he had passed away. With no other guide, I turned to his Roladex and sent a death announcement to every address I found there. I received a heart-warming number of replies. The expressions of sympathy were equaled by the appreciations of my effort to inform.

Most of my dearest distant friends have family members whom I trust will inform me if there is a change in status affecting our ability to interact. A few do not. My main communication with these individuals is email. Will anyone trouble to go through a record of email exchanges to send me the sort of notice I mailed out about my father?

With social network links as the primary basis for many friendship interactions (no comment at this time on the “reality” of those friendships), won’t someone please invent – or make me aware of – a mechanism for informing “in the ether” friends of a death or serious restriction on ability to communicate?

Or am I one of too few for whom out of sight is NOT out of mind? No matter – if money can be made out of creating a social network death notification system, someone will set up the site. In the meantime, perhaps I should attempt to develop a sufficient psychic sensitivity to be directly aware when there is a hole in my net of linked relationships.

What I know I can do is assure that someone close to me knows to post an announcement on my blog, should I cease to be able to be here to do so. Do not worry, therefore, if I seem to disappear from sight for a time, as I did when my day job overwhelmed my time. I’m fine, and will be back, unless/until you hear otherwise, here.

And thank you, all, for liking and for following 1eclecticwriter.

Not One Ding-a-ling

July 26, 2015

One of the blogs I follow, Musings from a Tangled Mind, is occasionally a rant against some stupidity of daily life – usually on a subject I agree deserves a tongue lashing. I’ve not seen, there, my target today.

I am rarely able to nap during the day, no matter how tired I feel. This afternoon, I succeeded to drop off – and scarcely half an hour later my phone rang with an automated call from Walgreen’s Pharmacy, a reminder about refilling a prescription that:
1) doesn’t have refills on it, and
2) I never signed up to have reminders about.

I grew up in an environment which functioned largely without telephones at all. My recollection is that we were on a multi-party line in Washington DC, before my father entered the Foreign Service and we decamped to Vietnam in 1956. There – and later in Paris – there was a phone in our home, but it was solely for my parents and for official use only. I did occasionally use the Paris phone to arrange to meet a friend, but tying up the line to chat was forbidden, the cost considered prohibitive.

Returned to the U.S. for college, I lived in a dorm with one phone for the entire floor, or pay phones in the lobby for calling home. Again no habit of phone conversation developed. By the time I was out of school, married and living in my own space, the telephone had become a tool for necessary contact and nothing more. Thus, when I moved to New Mexico and into an area with no phone lines available, I was not disconcerted. In the one instance when my parents urgently needed to get hold of me, they had me located by the State Police, who came out to my house to deliver the message that I needed to call back East.

With time, I moved to a more developed area and met phone lines in place. I was still on a system that was small enough for us to give out our numbers with only 5 digits (Santa Fe was either 982 or 983 prefix, so my phone number was 33474, although one had to dial the initial 98). By the time I moved to the Las Vegas area, Santa Fe had 988 and 471 also in place, but Las Vegas had only 425 or 454. Five digit numbers remained the norm until the late 1990s.

Over the past 15 years the entire state has “upgraded” its land lines and sprouted a plethora of different cell company connections. In order to have service in my “second” house (the land line only goes to the main dwelling) I’ve signed up for T-Mobile, upgraded to a “smart” phone and now get calls via WiFi.

None of which justifies Walgreen’s disrupting my nap with an automated call to alert me it is time to refill a prescription!

Especially when I did NOT ask for that service. In fact, I’ve opted out of it twice already. Apparently, each time I fill a new prescription, the refill reminder is set for thirty days out, no matter what the content of the prescription says – and each new prescription requires a new opt out.

Lesson learned – no new prescriptions will be filled at Walgreen’s unless/until their system allows me to put a block on unwanted calls.

Which brings me to the true topic of this rant – the presumption that we all want/need to be connected all the time, that if we miss a call we are expected to return it immediately, that it is okay to repeatedly troll for business even after being told not to call again and even when the number dialed is on a national do not call list. We have to opt out of everything we don’t want, rather than being invited in and allowed to not participate unless we request inclusion.

A similar presumption underlies online tracking of preferences, of sites visited, etc. so that “ads can be tailored to meet your needs.” Except that no ad ever meets my needs, because I’ve learned to ignore them. They are an intrusion into my time and space, or into my spam folder. I do not have TV reception and, though I do miss the occasional drama series and a few PBS programs, the amount of advertising I thus avoid more than balances the small amount of worthwhile content that I forgo.

At what point did we cease of be people with brains, worthy of respect and entitled to be asked our preferences? How did I miss the turning point where personal space, rights to solitude and to privacy disappeared from everyday interactions?

I am not so “old fashioned” as to devalue the benefits of having a cell phone. I do appreciate being able to text and to email and reach out to people more quickly and easily than when I had to walk from my home in Lamy to the train depot to make that call to my parents, using the only pay phone in the village. I am so old fashioned as to mind that, with the advent of easy connection, has come a culture of disregard of – nay disrespect for – those who are on the other end of the connection.

Yes I realize there were people, shortly after Mr. Bell made his revolutionary invention, who said then what I’m saying now. They had it right, to some extent. Cultural norms do need to be adapted to changes in technology but not to the point of eliminating basic respect for individuals’ privacy and control of their home environments.

Just because you want to contact me does not mean I am obliged to be available to you!

There is a time and a place for communication. During church service in the morning, and again when I am napping on a Sunday afternoon is neither the time nor the place for Walgreen’s to pester me about a prescription refill for which I am not even eligible!

What’s that old parting line after a job interview? Don’t call us, we’ll call you?

If I want information I’ll seek it out. If I need a refill I’ll ask for it. If I intend to purchase an item, I’ll find the stores or the online sites with the items I’m interested in. I know my own mind, what I want and when I want it.

If you want my business, show me the simple respect of allowing me to initiate the contact, and to choose what reminders or new information I desire.

Stepping Forward with a Different Foot

December 31, 2014

How does one go about finding motivation to continue working at an impossible job? What enabled Sisyphus to continue pushing that boulder up the mountain?

Now How Do I Do This?

Now How Do I Do This?

Vacations are meant to provide rest and relaxation, a break in routine which allows one to return to work refreshed and with new energy and purpose. So far, completing the middle of three days of work between two four-day weekends, I am only seeing a great reluctance to return to my too-full-time job in January.

Not because I don’t like most of the work. Not even because the computer data base we must use is so extremely user unfriendly. My reluctance comes from knowledge that the caseload is too large for me to meet my own expectations of performance. Working ten hours a day, seven days a week, I would not get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Working an average of 55 hours a week I most certainly do not do so. More importantly, just keeping track of everything I should be doing is virtually impossible. The size of the job is beyond control.

I’ve tried telling myself that doing my best on the cases I reach is all that I should expect. I’ve attempted to focus on the successes I’ve achieved, the clients who are happy with what I’ve been able to do for and with them. Just today I had a call from one of these, a woman who wanted me to hear the latest challenge she faced and overcame. She wasn’t looking for validation or approval, just for a listening ear so she could hear for herself what she was accomplishing.

But now another day has passed without needed services for a client who lost them due to the mistake of a state agency. I’ve spent time every day for the past eight weeks, first trying to prevent the termination of services, then trying to push someone in authority to recognize and correct the error. I did hear, today, that steps are finally being taken to right the wrong – but I’m typing with crossed fingers. After two months of no one hearing or caring, I’ve moved to Missouri. I’ll believe the situation is corrected when I see it fixed and my client is once more getting services.

Also today I dealt with the case of a client who is having difficulty accessing services from the only provider in the state who can care for her – because my employer (an MCO) does not contract with the provider’s employer (a hospital complex). Procedures needed to get her services include access to levels of review in the MCO that I am not familiar with. I do know whom to ask, and have already been given suggestions on what steps to take next. Teamwork and support are positives in my workplace.

I’ve tried to set myself a standard of doing a complete and to-my-best-ability job for each client with whom I have contact, and not worrying about the ones I’m supposed to check in on, but do not reach. Whenever a client’s needs raise issues with which I’m unfamiliar, I require more hours to meet that standard. More time means more clients I don’t contact, more items on the not-done list, and another trip up the mountain, pushing my boulder.

I, like most people, need to feel some control over my work and some sense of completion. The size of the caseload and the imposed expectations of performance erase control and eliminate completion. Sisyphus and a restaurant dishwasher and I share an unending task that is never done. I can’t ask Sisyphus how he persuaded himself to keep on keeping on. Maybe I should inquire of a few local dishwashers?

Management is trying to hire more staff, to bring the caseloads down. They are also going to replace our nightmare software system – in another year (2016). I’m hardly the only person trudging endlessly up the hill. Too large a number of my coworkers have transferred, not out of the company because it is quite a good employer, but to different departments where the work expectations are achievable.

I don’t easily have that option. So I need to learn to love pushing my boulder endlessly up my hill – and I don’t know how to go about that challenge.

Wisdom of my Teacher

Wisdom of my Teacher

What I do know is that everything that comes into my life can be a source of learning. Maybe my question should therefore be, what will I gain from a stint as Sisyphus? Is this whole experience just about me learning to let go of the need for control, on yet another level of existence?

If the details of such an enormous load are too much for mind to manage, perhaps I need to learn how to set my priorities, move through my days, meet my clients and complete my work based on the dictates of some other part of my persona. I’ve had some of my most satisfying work days when my schedule is totally overturned, and I end up just doing what’s brought to my attention, item after item, into the evening. My more frustrating days usually involve trying persistently to accomplish something I’ve determined as a priority, despite computer glitches and multiple petty distractions.

Sounds like maybe the lesson is, once more as so often, Thy Will not mine, Lord.

In which case I don’t need to figure out how to push my boulder up the hill. I only need to be ready to put out whatever effort each day calls for, perhaps to find myself riding a roller coaster, or sliding downhill on skis, and only occasionally carrying a small pack up a mountain trail.

I can do that. Yes I can. Happy 2015.

Moving Ahead

Moving Ahead

As Above

July 6, 2014

I took a short vacation last week, only three days. Enough to slow down, relax in a comfortable motel, watch World Cup matches and go for walks. Not enough to get the rest I need, but at least a taste of what it will be like soon, when the greatest press of work eases and I can once again have weekends.

It’s almost harder to resume intense work now than it would have been to just keep going. My body is telling me it likes being lazy but physically active. My mind informs me there are other things it wants to consider than the myriad aspects of my demanding job. My spirit…? It seeks constantly for the Source, drawing energy to support what my other components find it necessary to do.

As above, so below is a phrase used by my spiritual teacher, to help us channel our attention in the most beneficial direction. With the proper attitude, and the correct placement of attention, we are able to let Divine energy flow in, showing us our undue attachments and the ways that we divert and misuse that energy.

Attachments are essentially misplaced attention. Have you noticed that when you dislike something, it seems to keep popping up before you until you let go of the dislike, becoming neutral on the subject? Only then, with attention directed somewhere else, can the object/experience/attitude fade from prominence in your life.

On the flip side, I can say that I am now enjoying in my daily outer life a delightful reflection of the companionship, caring, fun, accomplishment, ease and peace that twenty years of patient spiritual pursuit has achieved for me with my Inner Beloved. Not looking for anything more than the gifts already given, I am astounded to find my mundane world such a perfect reflection of the promises of my spiritual one. Not that there aren’t challenges, large and small. How could there not be, since I am far from a perfected spiritual being.

What I understand, though, is that when issues do arise I need give these outer manifestations only passing analysis. The majority of my attention needs to go within, to determine what subtle (sometimes not so subtle) concern or attachment I have neglected to clear from my being.

Today, my reliable, hardworking, much appreciated and well-traveled (220,000 miles) VW gave out as I was driving into town. Rolling along just fine, then a popping sort of bang, a huge puff of smoke, and clearly something was very wrong. Coasting to a stop, calling AAA for a tow, figuring out where to have the car taken so a mechanic can assess the problem – these steps followed in a fairly routine way. I called a friend to take me home, where I collected my second car to return to town and continue with the day’s projects.

Now I am considering what I will do if the repair bill approaches the down payment for a new vehicle. And I’m asking myself what inner, reliable and established habit is also due for a revamp or upgrade? Am I due for a change in my attitude toward spending and debt? Have I been taking the presence of some skill or energy too much for granted? Or is my reliance on the care and attention of my Divine Teacher being put to the test?

My Internet service also failed today – with a 24-48 hour restoration time frame the best that can be promised me by the repair people. And just now, our electric power went off. So three basics of outer daily function have all quit on me at once. For sure, I will be looking to see what I’ve been taking for granted on the inner, and attending to repairs and maintenance of any areas where I find my attentiveness has been lacking!

Thank Thee, Beloved, for serving me up this fine example of “as above so below” – or perhaps I should say “as within, so without”. I deeply appreciate that the lesson is being offered on a weekend day, when nothing is so pressing as to prevent me from taking this matter into contemplation.

Baraka Bashad. May these Blessings Be.

Eyes on the Sparrow

Eyes on the Sparrow

Postscript
The car blew out at 10:00 AM. The Internet quit by 1:30 PM, the electricity died at 3:00 PM.
As of 8:00 PM both electricity and Internet have resumed function.
I await the morning, to see what happens with the car.

In Process

April 27, 2014

It’s early Saturday morning, and with only one client to see en route (sort of) to a shopping trip in Santa Fe, it actually feels like a day off work. Perhaps because I have no intention of opening up my work computer?

Yesterday I learned that a fairly recently hired co-worker, whose presence took a load off me, has given her resignation notice. The demands of the job are too much for her “at her age”. She’s ten years younger than I am. Hmmmm…

I am significantly aware that I have not participated in any of the several opportunities to sit with others in contemplation, as I was accustomed to do before January 1st. Engaging in moving meditation has taken on a whole new meaning – no longer a structured, slowly measured walk but rather brief minutes of focused consciousness while driving from one place to another. I am trying to also achieve moments of stillness and non-thought before starting each new task of the day, and especially before opening the work computer. It does seem that the better I am centered, the more smoothly the computer operates.

May I hope, in time, to feel the same connection to that computer as I do to my VW? I’ve scheduled the car for a visit to a local mechanic, ostensibly for a check over before I take a long drive to Sedona in mid-May, but actually because something about the way the car starts in the morning has alerted me that all is not well with my trusted steed. Will I ever reach the point of being able to tell, before opening the first screen of my job-dedicated computer, that one of its many layers of security interface is experiencing a glitch and that my work session will not go well?

Have you noticed how pervasive is the tendency to think one is doing something wrong, if a project encounters obstacles? We seem to expect that once we’ve planned a course of action, and put it into motion, all should go easily. Problems that crop up are taken as criticism of our planning, or perhaps of our intentions. How unrealistic, and egocentric a view that is! Some of us who meet such obstacles simply drop the project, believing we are not meant to succeed. Others try to force their will upon the perpetrators of the obstacle, bulling their way to the desired goal. Neither process is enjoyable, neither brings much sense of achievement.

One of my teachers of MasterPath spoke of going for an outing on horseback, following a trickling water course up toward the mountains. She had to ride around large boulders, zigzagging from side to side of the stream and occasionally pushing her horse to scramble up onto one bank or the other to get around a fallen tree. Life is like that, she said – a path toward a distant goal but never smooth and straight. More than half way to the mountain, a thunderstorm erupted near the mountain top and wise woman that she is, she immediately pushed her horse up out of the arroyo and onto higher ground, heading back toward home at a brisk trot. Going to the mountains would be the project for another day. We need to be flexible, she said, and recognize when it is – and when it is not yet – time to undertake or complete projects. When it is right to push forward and when it is wise to step aside and wait.

Valentine, with Choices

Valentine, with Choices

A true measure of success is not, then, about achieving goals in one’s predetermined time frame, Rather, it is about how one behaves, feels, enjoys the process of moving toward the goal and how flexibly one adapts to the inevitable obstacles and delays that are encountered.

I’m not revealing anything new here. Only reminding myself of my best course of action in managing my demanding new schedule so as not to reach the point where I must, like my co-worker, resign in order to survive. My choices are to increase my awareness of “the flow” so as to be better able to go with it; improve my patience so as to be better able to accept God’s timetable instead of my own; and enlarge the scope of my adaptability so as to be best able to “enjoy the process rather than focus on the outcome.” Oh, and definitely to have fun along the way!

When Life Gives You Lemons

April 13, 2014

Ah, the wonders of modern reliance on connectivity!

I had set aside an important three hours on Friday morning, to enter client assessments into the data base system on which my job relies. Guess what? Not only could I not connect, the entire system is down. The only way I can complete any aspect of my work is by telephone – calling into the IT number from time to time, to learn whether the massive problems have been solved. With several thousand employees disbursed across the large state of New Mexico, there is no way – apparently – to alert all of us to a change in status.

Disaster preparedness lessons are certainly now being scheduled.

One of my duties as a Care Coordinator is to educate the clients on my caseload about disaster preparations – to help them think through where they will go if they must evacuate, what they need to have ready to take with them, how they will have their needs met in a new location, etc. The area where I live – and across which my clients are scattered – has been in severe drought for close to ten years, with this past winter being one of the driest on record. Spring is showing in town as forsythia flowering, but looking out my window I see only the dry brown of parched end-of-summer. Driving into the nearby mountains yesterday, there was no hint of green on bare branches of scrub oak, which should already be leafed out.

Like most of my neighbors, I watched TV news of feet of snow being repeatedly dumped on the Midwest, and wondered why the prevailing winds could not let some of that moisture drop on us here, rather than sailing by, overhead. Surely the scientists who can put a man on the moon can figure out how to redirect moisture flows here on earth and distribute needed water more evenly!

When will those individuals supposedly concerned with the nation’s welfare stop bickering about the reality of climate change in the abstract, and focus instead on solving the very real problems of weather extremes being experienced right now? These extremes are causing disasters of varying sorts, every season. That is a fact, not an abstract.

Does it matter whether one believes or not that there are major, impending climate alterations for which mankind is responsible? Not at all, if the priority is to address the very real drought – and the equally real polar vortex – being experienced in different regions of our country.

Stop bickering, and just fix it, already.

Meanwhile, it’s an interesting experience to observe a huge non-profit brought virtually to a standstill for an entire day, because somehow its computer networks have failed. I don’t know as of this writing whether it’s the servers themselves, or access to the Internet, or some other issue that prevents us from emailing one another, or using any of our data base systems. I only know that it is obviously dangerous to build a service delivery system around an expectation that all information one needs to perform ones job can be accessed via the computer.

I’ve ranted here before on the limited vision of techies who build their systems in the midst of large cities with good Net access, and who then expect those of us living in the mountains and “on the frontier” to be able to use those systems. I have to admit I’m perversely glad that serious problems have arisen today right in the center of New Mexico’s largest city. Maybe now, the voices of those of us who are frontier people will be heard!

Maybe now, as well, local stores will consider making the ability to do simple arithmetic and to give change a job requirement once again. They’ve had to shut down serving customers when we’ve had power outages that turn off the cash drawer calculators. Oh, that’s right, the store’s inventory tracking is based within those calculators, and heaven forbid they make a sale that isn’t tracked. After all, doing business is about making money, not about serving customers – right?

Inability to distribute food or other essential goods because the power is off, or the computer is down – now that is a recognizably man-made disaster! No need to get into the debate about man’s contribution to the current climate extremes being experienced – just look at the many local mini-disasters we most certainly cause by ignoring the fallibility of our mechanical creations. Millions of vehicles recalled, dams that crack and flood, power grids that rupture… Haven’t we collectively figured out that if it can be built, it can fail?

No, I guess not. So today I don’t work as expected. Or rather, I will schedule extra clients to visit, collecting information in an old-fashioned, hand-written file folder. Whenever the technical problem is fixed, I’ll have a backlog of data to enter – as will many of my co-workers. I do hope the upsurge in computer usage doesn’t cause a new crash! Is that potential disaster being planned for, as the current repairs are undertaken? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, if the present computer problem isn’t fixed before Monday, I’ll actually have a whole weekend off, for the first time since January 1.
Make lemonade.
Drink lemonade.
Enjoy lemonade.
YES!

Choosing an Attitude

December 14, 2013

One of the elements of my new job that was most appealing – working from home – is also revealing itself to be a challenge in ways I did not experience the last time I had a similar employment. Just a few changes in external circumstances are making a significant difference in how I relate to my obligations.

The first time I worked from home was more than 20 years ago, when I had just moved to Sapello. I lived alone, and was hired to manage and build up the clientele of a home health agency. I enjoyed being able to spread my work over the seven day week, scheduling my leisure activities intermittently with travel to clients’ homes and with the inevitable administrative work required. While I was never “off duty”, I did have a lot of choice about what I did when. I was flexibly able to fit my personal obligations and desires around work demands, rarely feeling pressured because there seemed to be enough time for everything.

Eventually the agency grew to the point that we established an office, and I became subject to a more consistent and common work schedule. I left briefly, for personal reasons, and spent eighteen months self-employed. I completed several contracts and saw clients privately for counselling sessions. When I returned to the agency, again as its branch manager, I was subject to the standard “8-5 in the office” schedule, to which I adhered for fourteen years. Eighteen months of semi-retirement and job search brought me to my present full time, salaried and home-based position.

I do not now live alone. I share my very small house with my disabled former husband, for whom I am guardian and with whom I remain friends. His health is slowly and steadily declining. A sequence of aides come to the house, to help him during the day and to see that he gets supper. The schedule is meant to assure his safety when I am away. In consequence, there are several different people added to our small space, to whom I must accommodate when I am at home. While I am, mostly, relieved of responsibility for my housemate’s care, I do have to step in, unpredictably, when an aide is unavailable. And I am responsible to assure that the schedule of services is established and maintained.

Over time, our home has become divided into “my” room, which is also the living room that contains the day bed where I sleep, and the rest of the space – sleeping area for my housemate, dining area with the table covered with items he uses for his craft projects, kitchen and bath which we share. While I was still employed at the agency, the aides were scheduled during my work hours. In the eighteen months since, I find my necessary privacy and quiet time at night, often writing (as at this moment) or reading. My housemate watches TV with earphones on, allowing me valued silence for contemplation and creation.

Embarked on my new job, I have been away from home for extended periods of orientation and training. Shortly, I expect to be scheduled for long, busy days traveling to clients’ homes, interspersed with long and demanding days at home entering information into the complex computer systems my employer has been training us to use. I’ve had just a few weeks at home, to set up my “office” and establish those systems as functional in my rural, no-cell-service area. The systems are only partially in place so far. I do not yet have a land-based work phone, and I continue to uncover wide areas from within which I have no connection to the Internet. For clients who live in those areas, I will have to take notes and then enter data later at night, after I get back home.

My office is now in a corner of the dining area where my housemate – and his aide – spend most of the day. I’m having to learn to shut out their conversation in order to concentrate on the tasks that come to me by computer. On a recent visit to a building in Albuquerque newly occupied by some of the staff of my company, I walked through a huge room of employees in cubicles, thinking how grateful I am not to be similarly situated. I only have to shut off two voices, not hundreds.

I’m realizing that one of the serious sources of stress over the last years of my former employment came from the lack of doors on offices in the various buildings that agency occupied. As a manager, I relied on knowing (hearing) what was going on throughout the office. As a person, my need for silence around me, for auditory privacy, was consistently challenged. Personal validation and social support, also important to well-being, came from co-workers and from those engaged in the various volunteer activities I’ve pursued. For recuperation, reflection, and privacy I could count on quiet at home.

Changes in my housemate’s health, including recent medical emergencies disrupting my work day plans, new aides requiring instruction that he does not provide, and the expectation from my present employer that I be available on an 8-5 Monday to Friday schedule, have combined to eliminate my control over how and when I do what needs to be done. As a result, work is not staying in balance. It is seeping into my sleep time, rousing me at 5 am to try yet another way to solve a computer problem that proves not to be solvable by me. I begin to feel encroached upon by lack of quiet personal time – and by the necessity of at least temporarily giving up almost all of my volunteer activities.

During a recent two nights alone at home, while my housemate was in hospital, I was jolted to realize that many years have elapsed since the last time I had this space to myself for more than two hours! There is already so much activity filling the house, can I actually bring work here too, without losing the last bits of “me” space?

+++++

Yes, I recognize my issue is a matter of mental attitude. My spiritual Path teaches that “the mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master.” Private, quiet, contemplative space for myself will exist wherever I am, if I make it a priority – and “set my mind”  (no, actually not my mind, but my attention) to assuring it occurs.

I may not be able to go strictly by the clock, dividing work time from private time, especially while I’m still learning how to accomplish work tasks in an efficient manner. I cannot force my work computer to move through its paces more quickly. I cannot fix my situation of intermittent Internet connectivity, which disrupts the intended work flow process and requires me to “do double work” entering data already recorded on paper.

On a Recent Misty Morning

On a Recent Misty Morning

I can teach myself not to be frustrated by the computer’s slowness, and I can line up tasks to do during the waits (like creating a  card file of important numbers and contacts). I can “take time to smell the roses” or, in this winter season watch the birds. I can revel in my ability to look up from my computer to see snow dappled fields inviting to deer, doves perched in a row on the fence beside the feeder, a squirrel gorging himself on seeds, and little birds on the ground waiting to collect what the doves and the squirrel shove over the side of the dish.

Yum!

Yum!

I may need to extend work hours into the evenings and weekends – but I can still define times when I turn off all electronics and soak up the natural sounds of wind, dogs chasing rabbits, birds arguing over priority at their feeder, and snow dripping from the eaves.

Serenity surrounds me. I need only put myself within it. I am blessed.

Disconnects

November 17, 2013

It’s odd how easily what seems like a simple communication can be misunderstood. I received a spread sheet from one of the higher ups at my new job with a label of “Staffing and Skill Set”. It only listed two of the six areas in which I have skills. I replied with a query regarding why my other four skill areas were not shown. Then from a co-worker I heard that the spread sheet is meant to indicate the areas of specialty to which we are being assigned. OK. Those two are fine with me. I replied to the emailed spread sheet with that acknowledgement, only to learn from my manager that the sheet was indeed meant to cover all our skills. Full circle, confirming a gap in communication.

*********

This morning I tried to complete online registration for the 401(K) I’m eligible to participate in, through my new employment. The managing company’s form kept giving me error messages related to the amount of contribution I wished to make, although the money is already being deducted from my check in accord with a paper application I completed through my employer’s Human Resources office. The online form doesn’t provide options for non-traditional contributors like me, who are not restricted in size of contribution, due to already being over retirement age. Nor is there any way to communicate this information without waiting until next week to call and – presumably after punching lots of irrelevant buttons – hopefully reach a person with whom I can talk through my situation.

*********

Last week, I joined a group of my classmates (all career women, all aged early 40s and up) in the bar area of the hotel where we are housed during orientation. We were taking advantage of the free drink per person, and light snacks, offered by hotel management as a thank you for our extended stay. That evening was our last together, at the end of our five weeks of orientation, before we dispersed back across the state, to work from home.

We progressed from drinks to dinner, and from talk about our training and upcoming new responsibilities to more personal sharing of events in our lives. Unaccustomed to this sort of socializing, I mostly listened – and laughed at some of the wryly told stories. Young teen offspring wanting tattoos led to the revelation that the person we all thought least likely to have one actually had three. She showed them to us, discretely – breast, hip and lower back. Another woman stood to reveal her numerous decorations on legs, arms, neck, lower back – and one that remained hidden because she said she couldn’t reveal it without stripping off her top.

She did not hesitate, however, to offer up her (clothed) chest for “a feel” of her saline implant breasts in response to a query from the woman sitting next to her, who recently underwent a double mastectomy.

At this point, we became aware of the lone male in our vicinity (by that time the only other patron in the area) whose attention was fiercely glued to his smart phone. He appeared to be in his 50s, muscularly well-built and attractive, grimly determined to ignore the behavior of our cheerfully frank and laughing group. We did, briefly, consider inviting him to join us. Embarrassing? To him, or to us? No, just funny – and a reversal of experiences we have all had, being professional women who occasionally go alone into predominantly male environments.

*********

Direct deposit of pay is mandated in my new work environment. I expected to receive a pay stub, or some similar accounting of the allocation of my money, when the disbursement was made, but so far nothing has arrived. Maybe there’s a place within “my” portion of the employer’s website to find this data, but if so I haven’t been introduced to it yet. It is, for me, a singularly uncomfortable feeling that changes are being made to my bank account virtually without my knowledge. A lifetime of instruction on the importance of being in control of my financial status is totally undermined by processes that seem designed to “go behind my back” and wrest that control away from me.

Communication is connection.
A feeling of connection is important to emotional well-being.
Why then is so much of everyday experience so disconnected, misinterpreted, overlooked, or ignored?

ERRor, ErroR, ERroR, ErrOR


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