Thursday, January 15, 2015

when stress cracks you like a cadbury creme-filled egg

Stress is a funny thing because it has a very unique way of expressing itself in people.

For me, I take information, internalize it - think I'm doing just fine and then after a day or two - find that I'm unable to sleep and yet unable to stay awake, almost simultaneously.  Last night for example, I was desperate to get in bed. But once I was there, I read books until 2 AM and then tossed and turned and was wide awake for the day at 5:55, with several things to do, but unable to get up and actually do anything until 7:40.   I just think when I lay there ... think about what I should do, what I shouldn't do, and imagine the different scenarios.  Then we miss the bus.

It can be so tough to be a grown-up. 

Charlie and I are again on the threshold of making a huge decision.  Where are we going to go?  What are we going to do?  I think we're afraid that we're going to make a wrong choice and that fear, just manifests stress and a host of other ailments like my narcoleptic insomnia.

I say "we" but in reality, I'm the one that's afraid. I'm afraid of giving up my career that has supported us. I'm afraid of moving north and buying a farm and relying on Charlie to carry the financial responsibility for our family.  I'm afraid of the alternative - moving to Texas and getting pulled deeper in to my career and away from my children.  I'm afraid of how fast these children are growing up and the teenage years that are looming a mere two and a half years away.  I'm afraid of success. I'm afraid of losing control.  And for as much as I enjoy each day ... I'm afraid of this nagging feeling that I'm hanging out in the "waiting room" of life.  Tick, tock!

Because I tend to overanalyze things, and then write about my over analysis...

On the one hand, we could move to Texas for a few years and do very well for ourselves. People at my age in the company are very well poised to move in to higher management roles, but what makes me think I'd want that?  (Answer, I'm human).

For as much as I love the idea of more women managers in this business, I'm afraid of success and what it will do to my ability to control the other components of my life.  I do not need the additional pressure and stress that comes with increasing responsibility.  Nor do I need the additional money.   That sounds crazy, but what do you do with additional money?  My experience is that you consume.

You buy houses and cars bigger than what you really need ... more crap that your kids won't play with and this makes you angry that they're ungrateful and don't care for the things you bought with money that you made while sacrificing time away from them ... and in general, you just have more and the weight of the stuff in your life bogs you down.  

Unless, I'm wonderfully disciplined and  can convince everyone to live in a small apartment so we can aggressively save for four college tuitions for two years.  (Mom, that's unlikely).

On the other hand, we have an opportunity to buy a 20-acre sheep farm with virtually no mortgage, in a picturesque little ski town, near one of the best STEM schools in New England. This sounds idyllic, except we haven't figured out yet how we'll support ourselves, beyond Charlie's very part-time consulting business, and my ability to 1) catch a sheep; 2) sheer a sheep; and 3) sell its wool.

For as much as I love the idea of that life, I'm afraid of being broke and desolate in a nearly 300-year old farmhouse with one bathroom.  What if there is a health crises and we have insufficient insurance?  What if the roof leaks?  What if a fence breaks?  What if we all get sick and have to use the bathroom at once and the toilet won't flush?  What if we have to EAT THE SHEEP?

That's how I'm dealing with my stress.  I'm imagining worst case scenarios and trying to summon the strength of spirit to charge forward despite the fear.  I'm also reminding myself how much I love an adventure. Whatever happens, I know this will be one of the best experiences of our lives!  

And then there's my husband...

This evening, Charlie was beside himself.  He's such an even-keeled guy, it's not very often that he is bothered by things, but tonight he was infuriated.  He'd heard this story on the radio while he was coming home from the store about the Cadbury Egg.  

According to Charlie, the confectioner has changed the recipe and packaging of this beloved and traditional treat.  Instead of coming in a 1/2 dozen, there are now five to a box. And the wrappers are different and the driver to this change is purely economic.  What set him off the scale, was that Cadbury was bought by Kraft and as my husband is telling me this story, he is becoming more and more agitated.

His face is red and his fists are clenched and he's yelling that Kraft makes crappy macaroni, now they're going to ruin the iconic CADBURY EGG and why can't people just leave GOOD ENOUGH ALONE?  "You know what they did, don't you?" he bellowed. "I'll bet management at Kraft said, 'Just substitute cheap cocoa chocolate instead of the good dairy stuff, and charge them the same amount for five crappy eggs instead of six. People will still buy them and we'll save $14.25 million a year!'  Why does it always have to be about money?!"

I'm not sure, but hearing him say that, makes me thing we should totally buy the farm and rebel against the financial ties that bind us in this society.

Oh, wait a minute.  "Bought the farm."

Doesn't that mean they died?!