Tag Archives: overwhelmed

Confessions From the Home Office

Confessions From the Home Office
Confessions From the Home Office


7 years ago, I became a “remote employee”. Back in the beginning, I was like a unicorn; rumored to exist, but others weren’t convinced it was real.  We “home basers” have come a long way since then, but perceptions haven’t evolved as quickly.  Some friends think I spend my day watching television and snacking.  Some envision it as identical to an office structure:  at a desk by 8:00 a.m., break for a 30 minute lunch at noon, and close up my computer at 4:30.  My kids think I never get out of my pajamas …which is the most accurate of all the assumptions.

I won’t lie; it’s a pretty sweet gig….but it has it’s downsides. While my coworkers in the office are chatting about their weekend over lunch at Chili’s, I’m more likely eating random things from Glad leftover containers while prepping dinner.  Sometimes it’s stiflingly lonely, and it takes focus to keep our team connected and bonded when we’re scattered across the country. Oh, who am I kidding?  I get to skip traffic, makeup, and ironing (or wearing) pants.  It’s frickin’ awesome!

While every day is different, I’ve tracked a recent day that is pretty representative.  Here’s a look at my pj clad, slipper wearing, unwashed hair, they-really-pay-me-for-this day.

5:00 a.m. – I’m awake. From bed, I grab my phone and check email.  Check Facebook.  Check Twitter.  Check NPR. It’s my turn on Words with Friends, and my brother is kicking my ass.  Jump into my slippers and take the dogs outside for their morning evacuations.

5:30 a.m. – I get my Kanban board set up. If you don’t know what that is, you can learn about it here.  Don’t let all the fancy stuff fool you:  mine is created with 3M sticky notes and a dry erase board.  The reality of the tasks give me anxiety, so I pick 2 of the easiest things to do quickly and get them off my plate.

Read email and replace the 2 tasks I’ve just completed with 4 more.  Friggin’ hell.

6:00 a.m. – I play with the dogs, because they’ve been annoying me for some attention since we came in at 5:30.

6:12 a.m. – Drink from last night’s cup of ….diet Pepsi?  Tastes like flat, warm diet Pepsi.  Drink it anyway.  Refill with fresh diet Pepsi.   Empty dishwasher. Remember new tasks on Kanban board and go back to work.

6:20 a.m. – Get to work on the non-urgent emails from overnight. Since I work for a global entity, communications come in all the time.  The goal is to clear those out before my “real day” starts at 7:30.

7:00 a.m. – Make sure the Mister is up and put some coffee on.

7:05 a.m. –Notice the first coworkers starting to pop up on Skype.  Why do we pretend that we start work at 8:30?  If we haven’t heard from someone by 7:30, we’re calling out the National Guard.

7:15 a.m. – Chat with the Mister, shove him out the door with leftovers for lunch.

7:30 a.m. – The Morning Blur: Skype, phone conferences, emails, internet research, daily industry news summaries, book airfare for upcoming trip, confirm meetings.

10:12 a.m. – Refill Pepsi, bathroom break, take dogs out, feed the cat, evaluate options for dinner and take something out of the freezer.  I’m exhausted, and it’s not even 10:30 in the morning.

10:22 a.m. – Daughter calls. “Hi, what are you up to?”  “Making pizza.”  “Oh, you’re not working?”  Silence.  “OK, sorry, just wanted to ask you something real quick….”

10:30 a.m. – The Morning Blur, Part Deux: this part of the morning almost always involves heavy phone calls.  This is when the dogs have their daily barking bonanza.  Sometimes it’s over a squirrel.  Or the UPS guy.  Or a leaf blowing across the yard.   Hit mute on my phone and head to the spare bedroom for noise control.  Forget I’m on mute and just think everyone is talking over me.

Realize I didn’t finish upcoming trip preparations, make car reservations.  Realize I booked the car at a different airport than the one I’m arriving in.  Cancel existing reservation and start over.  Question how I’ve survived this long.

12:22 p.m. – HOW IS IT AFTERNOON ALREADY? Take a shower.  Debate return to pajamas or upgrade to sweat pants.  Refill diet Pepsi, and chastise myself for diet soda addiction.  Hunt for food.  Settle for cheese and nuts, unless there are really good leftovers that I didn’t send to work with the Mister.  Go feed chickens and collect eggs. Get mail.

If you’re picturing a woman in purple leopard print flannel nightwear, hair piled up in a ponytail, sometimes with a coat on over the pajamas, hauling around a chicken feeder, you’d be accurate. Just add my chicken waders to the visual, and you’ve got it.  My neighbors love me.

I inevitably get a phone call while I’m doing chicken chores  Usually it’s something critical and detailed, and it’s from an angry customer.  Try to memorize the details while replacing fowl food.  Rooster starts crowing because I haven’t given them treats yet.  “Is that a chicken I hear?  Why do you have a chicken at work?”  This does not soothe the situation.  Ever.

12:50 p.m. – Start on a project that requires concentration, for which I’ve blocked 2 hours and set my Skype to Do Not Disturb

12:52 p.m. – Get a phone call about a sick grandchild, and go pick them up from school. Make phone calls while in the car. Hands-free, of course.

2:00 p.m. – Return home, take dogs out, refill diet Pepsi, get sick kid situated on couch with blankets and remote control. Realize I’m still starving, and hunt for more food.  Bacon!

2:20 p.m. – The Afternoon Blur: Skype, phone conferences, return phone calls.  Realize one of the conferences is video enabled, and curse myself for the Cardinals t-shirt and crazy, untamed Phyllis Diller hair.  Thank God I got the call about the sick kid, or it’d be the purple leopard print  with the untamed Phyllis Diller hair.  Always look on the bright side.

2:32 p.m. – Son calls. “Hey, are you busy?”  This is always better than “Whatcha doin’?”.

2:48 p.m. – Daughter calls. “Go check Facebook.  You’re going to DIE!”

3:15 p.m.  –  Realize I didn’t book a hotel for upcoming trip.  Back to travel planning mode.

4:40 p.m. – Parent of sick child arrives for pick up. Take dogs out.  Throw in a load of laundry.  Get dinner prepped and in the oven.  Feel guilty for making dinner during work hours.

5:00 p.m. – Re-evaluate Kanban board. Commit to finishing 2 items before calling it a day.

5:05 p.m. – The Mister comes home, and I apologetically explain I’ve just got 2 more things to do.

5:50 p.m. – Boss calls from car on his way home to catch up on some topics we were supposed to talk about but didn’t get to. (He has a 75 minute drive, so this could take 5 minutes or 60.)

6:30 p.m. – Dinner; dishes; dogs; tv; normal evening.  My mother in law calls and asks what I did today.  I say “nothing, really”.

9:00 p.m. – Check email. Prime time in Asia, and the Inbox is filling up.

At some point – go to bed.

1:15 a.m. – Wake up; bathroom, check email.

3:22 a.m. – Wake up, check email. Find response from annoying string that’s been going on all day; type out snarky reply on phone.  Click send.

3:23 a.m. – Realize it was much too snarky, and that I’ve just blown my chance to go back to sleep.

5:00 a.m. – Here we go again.

It has its ups and downs, but I’ll take my chicken feeding, dish washing, makeup free days over the traditional corporate schedule any day.




So, you know those days when you just want to throw your hands up and say “F*@% it”?  That’s been me for the past couple of weeks.  There have been a series of events, some professional, some personal, and some societal, that have resulted in a loss of my generally optimistic and trusting nature*.

*This statement may, quite possibly, be sarcastic.

Bear with me while I give you some background, before I get to the real point of this post.  I’ll try to keep it succinct.  (Y’all know I ramble, right?)

Yesterday, an acquaintance phoned me, after a mere 7 or 8 years, to tell me that a former boss was mentally “down”, and thought it would be oh-so-helpful if I reached out to offer reassurance and friendship to him.  The former boss that went entirely on the attack when I resigned from his company.  The former boss that tried desperately to ruin my reputation in the industry and the community.  The former boss that tied up my energy and most of my retirement income in a frivolous lawsuit that took 3 years to get thrown out.  Yes, THAT former boss is depressed and is in need of his old friends to rally around him, and I should learn how to let go of past transgressions.

While that phone call was the proverbial straw, the advice that I should learn to “let go” was like a blow torch to dynamite.  I have been on what my grandmother would have called “a bender” ever since…eating and crying and hating people in general, and some people in particular.  I have been raging against an onslaught of dishonesty, disrespect, being taken for granted, and injustices to people around me.  Thankfully, I only rage in my head so as not to disturb others.

I call that “Catholic raging”. 

I sit and spew mental fire and cry and eat things I shouldn’t and make my dogs look at me funny and my husband get that exasperated face and say “What is WRONG with you?”  I am raging and loathing and sobbing as I type this.  If I didn’t need my hands for the keyboard, I’d be eating, too.  It’s not a pretty scene.

Because sometimes I get tired of doing the right thing.  I get tired of taking the high road.  I get tired of forgiving.  I get tired of being responsible.  I get tired of accepting bad behavior.  I want to throw my hands up and be helpless and let someone clean up my messes.  I want to get even and toss out paybacks like penny candy at a Christmas Parade.  I want to walk away silently whilst flipping the bird.  I want to be the sort of selfish badass that just leaves it all behind.

So, that’s where I found myself.  It’s a ridiculous, non-productive, unhealthy place.  Time to adjust sails and get my perspective back.

This is where the real point of this post starts, so if you’ve hung in there with me thus far, thank you.

I decided to focus on vacation, which is only 59 days away.  There is still so much to do:  menu planning, t-shirt making, beach mat blinging…it’s like a full time job, except I WANT to do it and I DON’T get paid, which I guess makes it the opposite of most full time jobs.  Whatever.

Steve, in his practical wisdom, and knowing that I am not in the best place right now, innocently suggested that maybe this isn’t the right year for the beach vacation.  Maybe we should put it off a year.  Go to St. Louis instead.  Something more low key.  Which made me cry harder, but at the same time gave me that much needed perspective.

When I was growing up, we took one trip:  The Great Anderson Family Vacation of 1969.  7 people in a Chevy Malibu.  My parents, my two sisters, one brother, and our parish priest.  Why did the priest go?  I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he was the one that owned the Malibu.  The Andersons didn’t have anything fancy like a car in 1969, ya know.  The priest may have also paid for the vacation, but I don’t know that for sure.  It still wasn’t a complete family vacation; one brother was God-knows-where with the Navy, and the other was on tour in Vietnam.

I have so many memories of that trip, and it is still the source of endless laughter at family gatherings.  Watching my Dad convince a deer to eat from his hand in Estes Park.  My sisters’ swimsuits, made by my mother, literally dissolving in the Great Salt Lake.  Freezing on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco because we Midwesterners thought all of California was 80 degrees all the time.  Trying mint jelly on a lamb chop, and gagging on it.  Being besieged by window washers as we drove into Mexico from Texas.  A horse trying to roll over on my Mom during a trail ride.  My Dad digging through the trunk every morning to find the bottle of Karo syrup if I wanted pancakes, because I didn’t like anything else on them.  My Mom with a death grip on the back of my shirt at the Grand Canyon, because she didn’t want me to fall in.  To this day, my only memory of the Grand Canyon is what the backs of other people’s legs looked like.

It was glorious and awful and funny and hot and crowded. It was The Great Anderson Family Vacation, and it was the only one we ever had.

Fast forward 4 years.  Not exactly a vacation, but we were going to go to Six Flags, which had opened in St. Louis a year or two before.  It was a big deal to me, because I’d never been to an amusement park.  I had been to school picnics at St. Mary Magdalen and some other surrounding parishes, and the concept of something as grand as Six Flags just blew my mind.  I mean, what could be better than the Scrambler and the Round Up?  My Dad was taking his week’s vacation, and while it was sure to be full of house projects, like every one of his vacations was, we were going to go to Six Flags.

But we didn’t.  The day before Six Flags, on my Dad’s last day of work before vacation, he suffered a massive coronary while in mid-sentence on a loading dock.  Lights out.  It was over, and there would never be another vacation, or baseball game, or fish fry, or house project.

My sister and her new husband took me to Six Flags later that summer.  It was awesome.  Really.  But I will always remember that my Dad never made it to that park.

The beach can’t wait until next year, because next year isn’t promised.  THIS year isn’t promised.  A lot can happen in 59 days.

The good stuff should never be pushed aside while we wallow in the inevitable bad crap that happens in life.  That’s backwards.

I can’t walk away from my world whilst flipping the bird.  That’s not who I am.

I can’t throw my hands up and let my world crumble around me.  That would make me ashamed of myself.

I can’t go on the attack or retaliate against people who fully deserve retaliation.  That goes against the laws of Karma, and in case I didn’t mention it, I pretty much try to hold true to that belief system.

I’m going to stop crying, stop binging on carbohydrates, and stop being angry at everything that breathes.  I am going to work on beach bags and t-shirts and cruise Groupon hoping for a deal on hot air balloon rides.

I am not calling the former boss.  I’m a believer in doing the right thing, but I’m not a martyr.



Why Some of Me is Never Coming Back

Why Some of Me is Never Coming Back

I love having this little space to write in.  Even if no one ever read a word of it, I would still write.  It’s my place to ponder, rant, purge, verbally regurgitate, and pontificate.  It gives me a window into my own history, a walk down memory lane, a recall button for emotions and events.

So why have I been missing?  It’s not because I haven’t had anything in my head.  My head is its usual cauldron of mental pot luck, chock full of everything from heart squeezing poignant moments, to exquisite frames of amusement, to guilt inducing rage-fueled fantasies of throat punches.  You know those people who are emotionally flat?  Yeah, I’m the opposite of that.

But I couldn’t write.  Not coherently, anyway.  And while I’m usually ok with just rambling down whatever path my keyboard takes, this was a different kind of jumbled.  I’ve really only been able to focus on one thing:  me.

I had to burn some vacation days between Christmas and New Years, and since my husband was in Canada (THAT’S a whole ‘nother blog topic), I got bored.  I was cruising YouTube, and I watched a video documentary called FatHead.  I’m not sure how I learned about it, but knowing that it was done by a comedian (Tom Naughton), and that it was a response to Morgan Spurlock’s shamelessly inaccurate Supersize Me gave me two reasons to sit back and click PLAY.  So I did.  I wasn’t disappointed:  it was funny, and it made Spurlock look like a fool.  But there was more to it.  It made sense. I watched it again.  And a 3rd time, because I figured that I’m kind of dense at times and really wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

You can click the link below if you want to watch it.

FatHead The Documentary

Then I cried.  For something like 3 days, give or take.  Because, you see, weight is an issue for me.  I could go with the common “I struggle with my weight” cliché, but that is entirely inaccurate.  I surrender to my addiction to food. The referee already counted to 10.  TKO, weight wins.

I eat to manage stress, and to celebrate, and to soothe.  I justify that as acceptable because, you know, abusing food isn’t a big deal.  I don’t drown my troubles in alcohol, I don’t use drugs, I don’t shop til I drop.  I eat.  Nothing comforts me more than a chocolate bar….or queso and chips…..or cheesecake…..or onion rings…..or hot bread out of the oven, slathered in butter.  I love to share my addiction, too.  For those I love, there are always big feasts full of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, French silk pie,  or Mexican extravaganzas. “I love you… I made you a lasagna.”  I’ve actually spoken those words to my middle child.

Just to clarify:  if you allow food to be your security blanket and your demonstration of affection, you get fat.  A little at a time.  My clothing sizes eek up ever so slowly.  Then I “diet” by eating salads with low fat dressing and low fat yogurt and boneless, skinless, flavorless chicken breasts with a baked potato with fat free sour cream.  And I lose 2 lbs. in a week, but I’m starving.  Then something triggers me, and I find myself eating an entire bag of Doritos or a hamburger and fries and I panic.  My loved ones tell me that it’s ok, because they don’t want to see me upset.  My husband brings me a candy bar because I’ve done really well and it’s ok to take a break for a minute.  One Heath bar isn’t going to ruin my life.

The 2 lbs. not only comes back, but it made a 1/2 lb. baby while it was gone and brings it back, too… and my next pair of jeans is one size larger.  Probably only because they’re “cut differently”, or because I want them a “little looser” in case they shrink when I wash them..  Whatever makes me feel better.  I stop buying clothes I like, and start buying clothes that hide.  I see photos from a recent birthday party and can’t believe that’s me in that picture.  Eating cake.  I go back to that salad and low fat dressing, and the cycle continues.

So, anyway, after practically memorizing FatHead, I started doing some additional research. I read, and read, and read some more.  I verified.  Then I pulled up the recently taken Christmas pictures, and looked at myself.  Really looked.  Cried some more.  Dusted my bruised little self esteem off and said “ENOUGH”.  So, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to concentrate on myself and my dysfunctional food relationship. (I actually just sang that in my head, to the tune of “Me and My Shadow”, and it doesn’t work at all.)

It’s  so intense, that I can’t really concentrate on anything else besides the necessities:  family and work.  So, that’s why I’ve been missing.

“How much weight have you lost?”  I get this question regularly.  Here is my answer.

This much fat

I’ve lost this much fat.

15 kg catI’ve lost the equivalent of the world’s largest domestic cat.

35 lbs grapefruit

I’ve lost this crate of grapefruit.



I’ve lost this pile of leaves.

35 lb wheaton terrier

I’ve lost an average Wheaton Terrier.

15 kg fish

I’ve lost this big fish.

15 kg dog foodI’ve lost this great big bag of dog food.

35 lbs allison

I’ve lost an entire 4 year old granddaughter.  (That’s Allison…my real 4 year old granddaughter.)

And that’s not all.

I’ve lost the stigma of identifying myself as “fat”.  I am not fat; I *have* fat, and I’m losing it.  I’ve lost my confusion over how food works in my body.  I’ve lost my shame in my shape.  I’ve lost my urge to camouflage my size with oversize blouses and accessories.  I’ve lost my fear of failing at this epic battle of Woman vs. Food.

I’ve lost the woman on the left, and I hope I never see her again.  I’m still creating the woman on the right.