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L had her second swim class today.

She moved effortlessly in the water as I supported her tiny body. Laughing, kicking, splashing. Repeatedly yelling "Da! Da! Da! Da!" starting a group chant. Her little nose crinkled as the splashes from the other bubs surprised her. At the end of the lesson she lay on the mat like a starfish with a satisfied look upon her face. It was a new look. Perhaps a sense of achievement.

We got changed with no fuss this time. Definitely chilled out from our shared time in the warm water. As we left the pool, I felt proud, like I had been doing this mama thing right. My baby girl fell asleep in my arms on the bus ride home and my heart was full. Nothing else mattered in that moment.

There have been lots of changes at work recently; people getting fired, moved, demoted, promoted, offered transfers to work at other stores, it's a time of uncertainty, fear, chaos, bewilderment, interruptions, gossip, speculation, and other things I can't precisely name or explain. I'm not sure if this is my imagination, what I want to see, or actually true, but it seems as if some of the life has been sucked out of certain areas and departments. I used to enjoy walking in back and even when it was too loud or I didn't like other aspects of it, I felt as if there was a hum in the air. Now the air seems flatter, stale, work is still being done, but it feels like drudgery rather than people going about their business in a more resilient fashion. I do not want to admit this, or even think about it, and many have told me otherwise, but I am also wondering if the person who has my job might be better at it than I was.

I cared about the larger picture, and I'm wondering if that hurt me in ways I couldn't have seen previously. Getting beyond the scope of one's role can be detrimental, it's next to impossible to be objective about this kind of thing, I'm far too close to the situation, and probably allowing a lot of emotions to cloud my vision. I'm still angry, still bitter, still upset, still want nothing to do with the new person who I feel acts condescendingly. She's trying to make the role her own, I can't fault her for that, but I can see how one of the key differences between the two of us is she has very little regard for the organization as a whole. It's my belief that she likes power and privilege, she's organized, but she doesn't value quality as far as I can see. Had I been in charge, I'm not sure I would have hired her in the first place, and I definitely would not have promoted anyone who did such a poor job at a lower position. The way you do small things is the way you will do large things. There's an apathy about her, she'll do her job to the best of her abilities, but she can't get along with other people the way I did.

I still see some of the people I used to work with, I knew that would change and it has. A couple of them stop by to check in, one guy in particular has made more of an effort and I wish I knew why, or what to do about it. Yesterday he said the coffee was weak, the other day he said it was exceptionally good. It's his way of letting me know that I'm appreciated and missed, and it brought tears to my eyes the first time. It's not my role to worry about any of them, take care of them, or try to make their lives and work environments brighter and sunnier, but I miss having that opportunity. I can see how being in that position led to a lot of expectations and some things that probably weren't good for us on the whole, but again, it's hard to be objective. Morale is down and I feel for everyone. Work is scarce, the phone hardly rings, the changes have made people less brave and bold, and the conversations that would be taken with grains of salt are erupting into larger conflicts that hurt us organizationally (in my opinion, some of the changes have been positive, but changing one thing changes everything, and that's been tough).

I'm better at the job than I thought I would be, it's not a significant mental challenge, but the boredom of being stuck in the same small space for my entire shift has been both easier and harder to take. Easier in the sense that time does eventually pass, and harder when I think about the weather being warmer and how I used to have the freedom to get up and walk around pretty much whenever I felt like it. I see how things I did led to me being moved, I tried to stay out of management's way, and I think that hurt me. They like snitches and tattletales; I avoid that kind of thing, and have a completely different philosophy when it comes to leadership and getting the most out of people. Rule by fear only lasts for so long, and I feel as if it is a very unhealthy way to go about running a business. There's a certain type that succeeds at that type of place; and some part of me is proud of myself for refusing to throw others under the bus, or rat them out even though things may have gone better for me had I stooped to some of these tactics. We had an unwritten rule in my department. We kept things between us. The only other person in my new department is like that too, and I will always be grateful to her for having my back when she was cornered by our immediate superiors.

On some level I actually find this amusing, as if they think they're playing some clever game the rest of us can't see or figure out. We know what's going on, but some of us have bills to pay, and can see the wisdom of leaving gauntlets where they lay. I also know that you can never break true bonds, and if the bonds you thought you had are snapping, frayed, or wearing thin, then it might be time to examine them more closely and see to what extent someone is really connected to you. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so they say, and I know on one level that this is true, but on another level, you get used to not seeing others, and the memories dim and fade. Naturally I see different people now, I try my best to do my job well, partially because that is who I am, but I am also extra cautious after the recent moves. Some believe that the new person won't last, this is possible, but I'm not banking on it. Intelligence isn't really the issue here, it isn't a matter of who is smarter, it's a matter of who they prefer, and which group they're trying to please.

I've had a lot of time to think lately. I know I'm being scrutinized, and that some of the surprise drop by visits where my new supervisor says silly things are actually check ups to see what I will say, digging for gold nuggets to bring back to the big boss; I've tried hard to be authentic and appear less guarded which is difficult when every nerve ending I have is bristling like a caged and cornered animal. I think I'm over it and then something will set me off again. I've thought about trying to find another job, but I know from experience that most organizations are run this way, or worse. There's a woman who cares for our plants, I spoke to her and she said that they are always looking for people. I believe I would be good at and enjoy a job like that, but I also know that sometimes these storms pass, and the people who jump ship prematurely miss out on things that they wish they had later on in life. It's not a completely horrible position, and I daresay I would actually enjoy it given a couple of fairly minor changes. I'm trying so hard to not force anything, but to relax, be myself, but to play the game a bit too, I hate that it has to be that way, but in some sense we are always presenting idealized versions of ourselves to others.

There have been bright spots, funny conversations, tender moments, empathy and support I wouldn't have predicted or suspected existed, there have been people who are now shunning or avoiding me and I'd be lying if I said that doesn't hurt deeply, the distance has been good in ways I don't want to think about, it's a chance to grow, especially when people who know me well ask about the transition. I'm pretty proud of the way I've handled those inquiries, and been rewarded for my answers which have been mostly tow the company line type stuff, this is a new opportunity, a chance to expand my role here, etc..., they know as well as I do that I'm not going to completely level with them, but I'm not going to give anyone any ammunition that could make its way back up to the top. Nobody talks to me about how things are going, and that's infuriating and somewhat expected. I feel like a powder keg of emotions, but I've always been kind of good about reeling them in which I'm not sure is really a good thing. But I don't want to let them see me sweat, cry, melt down, or crack in any other way. Maybe that's a mistake.

Anyways; it's been tough in numerous ways that I haven't fully examined, and maybe I never will. There's a sort of blind comfort in just going through the motions until I have my bearings and a plan. Who knows. But for now, I am okay, and that's been important to me. I don't understand it, but I guess I no longer care about the inner workings and motivations of the minds of others the way I once did. My tiny ship has been battered, I'm sticking close to the lighthouse for now, and have been encouraged by many of the messages I've received. This could very well be temporary, and if not, it's certainly far from the worst job I have ever had. This is a time to review where I'm going and I'm grateful for that wake up call as well. I still miss my children, the time to think at work isn't always positive, our showroom is very clean, far cleaner than it has been under past regimes, but it's a hollow and empty sort of clean rather than a warm and uplifting dirt removal process. But overall I'd say I've earned high marks even if I am only grading myself, it got me down, but I didn't let it keep me there which is great.

Xoxo,

J

P.S. I still paint, but that too seems like a pale shadow of the former brighter and more vibrant ideas and execution I've had previously. That's bumming me out more than I would like, but I'm still optimistic. 

j

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