I can almost think again

Stack of papers with bent edges protruding from the pile
There are about 20 of these in my study – at least, there were until a few hours ago

I’m cleaning out my study. At last. It’s been kind of a “null zone” for years, now, as I’ve moved my operations, like writing and blogging and coding, to the dining room, where the wireless signal is stronger.

I work from home a lot, these days. More than I’m in the office. It’s good, but that means I have to set up shop at home. And that means, I’ve taken over the dining room as my “office”. The wireless signal is stronger. And frankly, it’s often easier for me to think in the dining room, where I’m not surrounded by my books.

Being surrounded by books has its advantages, and disadvantages. Biggest disadvantage is the distraction. I have a lot of books. Covering many different topics. Neurology. Survival skills. Occupational rehabilitation. Philosophy (particularly phenomenology). Simone Weil. Autism. Stoicism. Samurais and Zazen. Art. Finance. History. 12th Century Renaissance in the South of France. German dictionaries for all occasions. You know, the usual assortment of deep and varied interests that someone like me would have.

The other thing that my upstairs study is full of is mementos. Like a LOT of mementos. Little figurines. Matchbox cars. Mugs and ornaments and odds and ends that I picked up along the way that have significance for me. Being in my upstairs study can be quite… consuming. So, when I need to block everything else out, I take myself down to the dining room, where I’ve spread out all my papers and notebooks on the table, and I work there. It’s fine. It’s also closer to the kitchen, which comes in handy when I’m hungry or thirsty.

But now I need to get back to my study. Because that’s where I think. The dining room is fine for working-working-working, but when I need to really sink into a line of thought and let it consume me, my study is where that happens.

And it’s been a long time since that took place.

Honestly, I’ve been so slammed, for the past year, working on a number of projects, that I haven’t taken much time out to just settle in and let it all sink in. I’m making huge strides, it’s true. And I’ve come up with some pretty cool stuff. But at some point, I need to stop, take stock, assess, and really dig into who I am, what matters to me, what I actually think about things… versus staying in that the constant current of GO-GO-GO.

There needs to be a balance. That’s for sure.

So, I’ve been cleaning out my study. I won’t post pictures of it, because it’s still a little Muench-scream-inspiring. But it’s getting there. At least now I can sit down on the chair at my desk and actually have room to write on the desktop.

Three hours ago, it wasn’t like that at all.

Progress.

One thing at a time.  One pile at a time.

Progress.

Till I can think again.

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Another post… because, Why Not?

Oh, I’m on a roll today. Two posts in the space of 24 hours. So prolific! 😉

I’ve had a pretty good day, sorting through a lot of questions I have about my future, thinking through the job opportunities ahead of me (I’m in the running for two very different positions), and mapping out my future path in ways that actually work for me.

Huh, it’s funny… as much as I hear people talking about Autistic people being under-employed, I’ve had the opposite issue. I can’t seem to get away from being over-employed. I have my day job, my weekly 9-to-5, and then I have all my other activities, which I suppose are kind of like very complex stims that help soothe me by redirecting all the energy (anxiety?) I have in overabundance.

Don’t get me wrong – working in the neurotypical world is really horrible, on a regular basis. I just can’t stand it, half most of the time. And yet, I’ve built up sort of psychic callouses towards it, and all the awfulness just seems like business as usual, which I try to ignore, as I’m putting fuel in my car, food on the table, and money in my bank’s mortgage account.

It’s the price of membership. It stings and it takes a toll, but there it is.

Anyway, fun stuff happening at the same time that all this intensity is going on. Additional projects — fun, fun, fun! — that are helping to re-route the overabundant energy from my system into the ethers around me. I’m collaborating with some members of a little autistic online tribe on a blog we’re just starting. I won’t say more, because I’m not sure how we want to play it or promote it, but keep an eye out for it, ’cause it’s gonna be fun!

Had I mentioned… fun?

🙂

Well, that’s enough for one day. Time for supper. Yes, it’s 9:00 p.m. I’m doing my European thing today.

 

 

Everyday I am up and working

Each and every day, I’m up and working. For others, for myself. Especially on weekends, when I have full days to myself. And my work.

Some people warn against ending up on your deathbed, regretting working too much.

My regrets will be more about not having worked enough. All the hours I frittered away, “playing” or “relaxing”, when I could have been working towards making substantive changes in my life. Those are hours and days and weeks and months I’ll never get back.

Everybody has their ways. My way is work. And I love it. It changes the world around me and it changes the world within me.

And how I do love that kind of change.

Peopling – It’s (all) a learned thing

turkeysThere’s a lot going on with me, these days.

I’m in the process of looking for another job. Ideally, I’ll find a recurring contract situation that pays really good money and is low-commitment, which lets me bail on the 9-5 every 3-6 months or so, then get back in the swing of things (if I need to).

I’m also working on a couple of other businesses at the same time. They’re mine. One of them has been many years in the making. The other is about a year old. The other (which actually has the most $$$ potential for each individual transaction), I just started a few months ago, and it’s going pretty well.

Meanwhile, my partner is not doing well, cognitively, emotionally, and physically. No matter how supportive I am, she continuously makes decisions that erode her well-being. It’s complicated. Long story short, it’s not fun watching the love of your life decline before your very eyes.

Anyway, one area where I need to make some real progress is in how I deal with people. I notice, more and more, that I’m really getting more autistic as time passes. I think it has to do with how much more sensitive I keep getting. It’s like, every year I get more “cued-in” to what’s going on around me, and my sensory issues keep getting more heightened, as well as more intrusive.

So I need to acquire some new skills – particularly with negotiation.

Here’s the thing: I can be terrible with figuring people out. I mean, seriously. Some days, I can’t tell whether they love me or hate me, I can’t tell if they’re listening to me or ignoring me. I can’t tell whether I’m doing a great job in the interaction, or they’re just trying to get away from me.

Here’s the other thing:  Some days I can be 100% ON, when it comes to interacting with people. They respond to me, they love me, they feel a kinship with me.

But even when I’m ON, I have a really hard time reading the situation and knowing where to go next.

My Solution? To train myself in the appropriate process to interact with people and negotiate any human interaction.

If you think about it, pretty much every human interaction is a negotiation. People want things. They want things from me, they want things from you, they want things for themselves. And their interactions are geared to get those needs met.

My partner is a classic case of that. One of the reasons she’s so difficult to support, is that she gets very histrionic about her challenges and she “amps them up” for effect, to prompt pity and help from people around her… so they’ll help her do things that she really needs to do for herself.

In front of other people, she makes a big show of how hard it is for her to do things. There’s much groaning and moaning and displays of difficulty. And everyone runs to her assistance to help her do things she needs to keep doing for herself, in order to stay strong and healthy.

But when nobody is watching, she does those same things for herself. She gets herself out of bed. She makes her coffee and toast. She moves around the house. She takes care of things. It’s completely different from when someone is nearby. Then, she appears to be almost completely disabled.

That’s an extreme example, of course. Not everyone is as histrionic as she is, nor do they manipulate others to that extent (and to their own detriment). But you know what I mean. Probably. Everybody wants something from interactions. Especially neurotypicals.

So, I need to get educated about how to manage that. Because my life isn’t getting any easier, and I need extra skills to A) negotiate a job change, B) expand my existing businesses, and C) really work out how to just deal with people effectively.

I need a script. I need a road map. And I’ve been watching YouTube videos about how to put together that road map. As artificial as it sounds, I keep hearing that you can script out your interactions and follow a process to lead people down a certain path of interaction. It sounds a little “Pied Piper”-ish, but apparently, people like to follow others’ leads, so I need to put myself in a leadership position when I deal with others.

It sounds a little tiring. But I’ve actually gotten in the habit of doing that, since just “winging it” with other people is so fraught for me, and it’s way too anxiety-producing. What I do is immediately take the lead in pretty much all my interactions – I talk to people first, I comment on things, I put ideas out there, I step into the void of silence and uncertainty between us, and I give them something to react to. And then I keep leading them into that void, giving them the chance to respond safely. They don’t have to come up with anything novel, themselves. They just have to react to what I’ve put out there.

And it works. For us all.

My technique is a little clunky, however, so I need to fine-tune it. That’s what I’m doing, watching videos about establishing rapport, negotiation, sales and prospecting processes… basically learning what I need, to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’m actually finding sales training videos to be very helpful, because they are about establishing rapport and bringing people over to your side.

So, that’s what I’m doing. Training myself to do the people thing. I’ve learned to do so many other things in my life, that are extremely challenging and daunting for most people. With the proper training, I should be able to learn this peopleing stuff, too.

Nobody knows about everything I’m dealing with, and that’s fine with me

Foggy view of a valleyI won’t bore you with the details (as much as you’d probably like to hear them in all their glory).

Suffice it to say, I’ve got a lot going on, and it’s unbelievably burdensome. Some days, I can’t believe I’m still upright.

And yet, I am. I keep going. I look for the positives. I remember my responsibilities. I don’t always handle things as well as I should, but I handle them.

And I don’t talk about it. I share with a few autistic friends I connect with online. I tell other people I know little bits, here and there, if I think they can help (I usually don’t).

One of the reasons I don’t tell people about everything I have going on, is that they’ll think I can’t handle it. They’ll think I can’t do my job. Or they’ll think I can’t keep up. I don’t feel like being limited by other people’s limitations of imagination and capacity.

Another reason is that I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. That’s the worst. Pity is poison to me. It kills the spirit and weakens the body. How will that help me? It won’t.

I also don’t want them reaching out to support me, because then I need to interact with them. Explain things to them. Get bogged down in their mirror neuron drama. Have to navigate their insecurities and neediness around my challenges – which they magically make into their own.

Another reason I don’t share is that the things I’m dealing with are Lots Of Big Things, any of which by themselves would overwhelm the average person. I don’t feel like being bogged down in other people’s protests that “It’s too much!” It is a lot, but other people trying to convince me that it’s all too much for me to handle just blocks me from handling it. So, why would I mention the full gamut of what I have going on?

But most of all, I don’t get into what I’ve got going on, because that distracts me from dealing with it all. My thought process is non-verbal and very visual. If I have to translate what I’m experiencing into words, it block me from accessing my most effective, inherent traits that can actually handle what’s coming at me. Talking usually makes everything worse.

So, I choose not to. And I just get on with the business of handling everything.

The benefits of extreme difficulty

antique phoneQuick post for today, before I gear up for the four-day family reunion extravaganza.

And no, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m not looking forward to it at all. My family is overwhelming. My parents are both on the spectrum, and my mother is hyposensitive, which means everything has to be loud and over the top for her to perceive it. So, EVERYTHING IS LOUD AND OVER THE TOP.

Which is painful, to say the least.

But I digress. This post is really about how I’ve developed some pretty impressive telephone skills, over the past several years. My job has devolved from hands-on, direct involvement in What Gets Done, to sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone screw everything up, and then being helpless to change the course of things. All I can really do is observe and then report. Which is maddening for me. I need to be hands-on, not pushed to the side. Plus, when I see people making terrible mistakes with their choices, I can’t just sit by and watch. I need to do something. Say something. But my input gets pushed aside, so…

I’m looking for a new job.

One of the things I’ve done more, for the past 3 years, than I’ve probably ever done before, is talk on the phone. Now, mind you, I have auditory processing issues, and it’s really hard for me to do phone conversations. But for years (especially the past year), I’ve spent anywhere from 6-10 hours in a day… guess what … talking on the phone. Listening. Trying to follow. Having that be my only connection to my colleagues, who are halfway across the country.

Augh! It’s been horrible.

So painful.

On the other hand, it’s been very helpful in training me to do well on the phone.  I mean… really well.

Funny, how that goes. When I don’t get something, I really don’t get it. But once I figure it out, and I come up with my own system and techniques, I can be really, really good. As in, second to none.

As it turns out, working the phones is now that sort of thing for me.

Everyday, a new adventure…

Ha ha! I’m going to quit, anyway! :D :D :D

cowboy herding cattle in dustI’ve been wrestling with the odious task of putting together a PowerPoint presentation for my boss – who’s covering for me at a workshop next week, while I’m at a family reunion. Personally, I think I’d rather go to the dreary slog of daylong meetings of people droning on, rather than dealing with my family for four days straight… but that’s now how things turned out, this time.

I guess, instead of sitting at a table, surreptitiously checking my social media 😉  while I feign “engagement”, I’ll have to pay attention to real live people with whom I (ever so reluctantly) grew up.

That whole reunion thing is a hot mess I just can’t even get into, right now.

But back to the PPT (as we so fondly call those instruments of corporate torture)…

I’ve been sweating over it for days, because it’s going to be presented at some Highly Momentous Planning Session that you’d think was swaying the future of the known-and-mapped world, the way people are going on about it. Basically, the workshop is pretty important. But that’s only because it’s the only way they can get all the chronically distracted people to pay attention to the same thing at the same time, so they can audibly commit to doing the jobs they’re supposed to do, anyway.

For this, I need to fly halfway across the country?! If people would just do their jobs, we’d be that much better off.

But I’m being unrealistic. For them, anyway.

And this Momentous Occasion will depend on me delivering Just The Right Amount Of Information, orienting everyone to the present and future state of the technology we’re in the process of delivering (late). Pressure, pressure. Meetings with my boss. And my boss’es boss. And reviews by the boss’es boss’es VP boss. High drama, indeed. So, it has to be right. And I’ve been sweating it.

But every now and then, I have to deliberately remind myself — I’m leaving this job at my first opportunity, so the pressure is off. When I go, the waters will close behind me, like the Red Sea enveloping the Egyptians behind the fleeing Israelites. And I shall be free to move about the desert as I choose. 🙂

Yeah, I can’t wear myself out with worry over things like Getting Everything Right. It’s in my autistic nature to fret over details like that. But honestly, all I need to do in the neurotypical world is come up with something halfway passable, and then act the part of someone who is extremely self-possessed and commanding. NT people love that. They really do. It doesn’t matter – at all – if there’s any substance to it. All that matters is the feeling of confidence and surety I give them, when I talk. It’s taken me years and years and years to get that substance usually takes a back seat to form with non-autistic people. And it’s taken me even longer to come to terms with it.

But hey, that’s how they roll, and as long as I can hack their behavior and simulate something that works for them, that’s cool. We’re cool. And that’s how I get ahead. I am often (by definition) an impostor in the process, but then, so are they. And if they don’t care, I can’t get worked up over it.

Whatever works.

Plus… ha ha! Even if my PPT is a dismal failure (which it won’t be, because I know how to REPRESENT!!! when I present to those folks)… I’m still leaving at my first opportunity.

And no, the proverbial door will not hit me on the way out. They’ll be eating my dust.