Procrastination Thoughts

Me? Ummm, yes. I’m a very large procrastinator. I’m constantly saying I will do something today, tomorrow, next week, and so on. Meanwhile, the pile of branches in my back yard needs to go away, I need to kill the weeds, trim the bushes, clean the house, clean my garage, put stuff away, the list goes on and on. Everything gets done at some point.

Even though I don’t technically work right now, it’s still hard to find the time or the want to do these things. My mood dictates my actions. Yesterday was a doctor appointment, running errands, taking and picking my son up from school, he had a baseball game last night, which was canceled after we arrived. So the little down time I had yesterday was spent relaxing. Things that take normal people little time, it takes me more time. Sometimes a lot of time.

I think I have to be in a particular mood to get things done. Don’t ask my why or how, that’s just how it is with me. Do I want to do my chores? Of course not. The funny part is that after the chores are done, there’s a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that I did a good job and that I completed a task. My kids aren’t old enough or don’t want to help with some of them. Isn’t that what kids are for? To help with chores? I was just informed that my daughter does do chores around the house. Emptying the dishwasher and she does some cleaning of the house. Thank you little one.

The Pay Gap

It’s pretty much common knowledge that there is a gender pay gap and the rich-poor gap just keeps on increasing. There are the doubters of course, but I personally try to look at the numbers before I make informed opinions.

I was doing a little research for an article that I am writing and found the disabled workers make around 1/3 less than what others make in the same profession, depending on the study you wish to base your number on. This is pretty much equal to the gender gap. This is just a generalization, but it’s the average. There are of course many factors that go into income, like ability, type of disability, occupation, training, and so forth.

Most disabled individuals work in the unskilled labor force. From what I noticed during my job search is that pay for unskilled labor doesn’t even come close to paying a living wage. In today’s economy, $25 per hour is still scraping the bottom of the barrel. And that’s being generous. One thing I assume is that many people still live with family or friends in order to lower monthly bills.

What to do?

Having a family would put this number even deeper. No matter who they are, everyone still has a skill, something they are good at. This is just my opinion of course, but there is a stigmatism with the disabled community. It’s assumed that no matter what the position is, a company can pay them less for equal work. That’s the nature of the unskilled labor pool, disabled or not. Anyone can have a shot at being more than a janitor, or working retail or fast-food.

My belief is that more attention needs to be paid to students earlier in life. Around middle-school to early high-school. Find out what people are good at and train them. The cost of college is a barrier to many and educational programs are not plentiful. They do exist, but more needs to be done to make people flourish. If a child does not get the best grades, college probably isn’t going to be on the table. Access to opportunities can be a barrier. In my case, the university helped quite a bit and accommodated me in some areas.

From personal experience, disability doesn’t pay very much. And it pays even less to people who have never worked, it’s based off income. When receiving Social Security disability benefits, you’re only allowed to earn a certain amount of money before they start deduction pay from your monthly paycheck. So you get screwed even more.

I could go on with this topic forever. It’s been part of my life for almost 20 years. Biases have formed in that time and I try not to let them get in the way.

My Point

My point is, is that everyone has a skill. Disabled or not. Attention needs to be paid to make those skills come out and be trained on them. Technical trades, college education, certificate programs, and so forth. Technical trades and certificate programs are becoming more acceptable in the employment community. Bachelor’s degrees are more like high school diplomas now, as I have found. More attention needs to be paid to marginalized communities and creating educational opportunities for those communities.

Emotional Damage?

My son has a doctor appointment this morning with a rheumatologist. He had some bloodwork done and it said he has Lupus. He gets a lot of fevers for no reason. Lupus is pretty rare in children so I have to wait and see what this doctor says. I’m not too worried yet, just have to wait and see what the treatment is, there’s no cure for Lupus, if he has it. Happy to say, he doesn’t have Lupus. He still needs to see an immunologist to find out why he gets his fevers, but it isn’t a huge worry about something too serious. This is where not worrying comes in handy.

Learning to accept things for what they are and not worry is something I’ve dealt with for many years now and I’m good at it. I wouldn’t say I’m heartless or emotionless, but certain things like worrying are something I don’t really do or have the capability of doing anymore. Worrying has channeled into acceptance of something and saying how do I fix it or treat it, instead of worrying about it. There have only been a handful of times when emotions truly affected me. Family members or close friends dying, my divorce, meeting the love of my life (RoxAna), my kid’s accomplishments, being so far away from my friends and family, those are emotional things that don’t require worry.

How my emotions work

Describing how my emotions work is very difficult to do. What can be devastating to one person, can be no big deal to me. Especially with medical diagnoses. I just accept something and try to fix it, or help fix it. Empathy, sympathy, sadness, I still feel those emotions, but on a different level. Remaining positive, calm, comforting, and finding the best solutions are what I’m good at now. It took me a long time to get this way, not really sure if it’s a good thing or not. Emotional side effects are common with brain injuries, or lack of emotions. What’s easy for one person to deal with, may not be easy for another person. We all handle life in different ways.

Here’s an example, sorry mom. The last time my mom went to the emergency room for an illness, I have to admit that I didn’t worry too much. I was concerned of course, but until a diagnosis is confirmed, I don’t worry. Luckily it wasn’t too serious. Is concern the same as worry? Maybe they are similar and I just don’t know the difference? If there had been a bad diagnosis, I would have remained calm and comforting and try to find the best solution. It’s hard finding solutions when we are overcome with emotions, that’s where I come in.

See, I do have some emotions

I don’t cry very often, and it takes a lot to truly get me angry. I have no problem getting irritated for some reason. During my job search, I don’t know if it was frustration or worry. Probably both. I know I was irritated for months. Quitting my last job, there was really no concern or worry because I have another job lined up. If I didn’t have another job lined up, the frustration and irritation would have probably come back. I don’t think I will be completely satisfied until I start bringing in a regular and steady paycheck. Is that concern or worry? Who knows and it doesn’t really matter at this point. I’ve made my choices and will live with the consequences, if there are any.

I’m very good at adjusting and adapting. There’s been no choice in that respect. Crawling up into a little ball and complaining is something I don’t do. Asking for help is something I hate doing, but some circumstances have forced me to do just that. Some of it has been my fault, but things outside of my control are the worst. Complacency is a foreign word to me.

Being so far away from friends and family, there’s a feeling that I’m slipping away and being forgotten sometimes. Do I regret decisions I’ve made? Of course not, it’s just how life works. I don’t know if there’s an emotion for that, I guess sadness maybe? Every major decision I make has a good reason behind it. Maybe it’s the wrong decision, but a decision nonetheless. I deal with it the same way every one of us does, that nasty word rationalization. We can rationalize anything we want. So here I am now, writing this, it’s a little emotional. I want to feel emotions, it lets me know I’m still here on this Earth and not in the Matrix.

And so it ends…

My resignation went into effect last week, September 15th. Since it was my first job in almost 20 years, I would say that I did well. Despite me having to resign, I was a good project manager and proved to myself that I still had/have the ability to work. Just not at a job that was as physical as that one. For most people, the job is not that difficult. I was on my feet for 10 or so hours per day, lifting things, doing a lot of walking. But I am not most people.

The Toll it Took

I was outside for most of my days. In the Phoenix sun, it was freaking hot. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I sweat a lot when I do anything physical. It doesn’t matter if it’s for 5 minutes, or several hours. The sweat just pours out of my body from places I didn’t know could sweat. Even my toe knuckle hair was sweating. I would be drenched for most of the day. It was just gross and I hated feeling that way. It felt like I had jumped into a pool fully dressed. My shirt would stick to my body, I drank massive amounts of water the entire day. I started off working the night shift, but even during the night I would sweat like crazy. When I got back to the hotel, I was still wet so I had to hang my clothes up to dry. It was ridiculous. There are 3 medications that I take and a side effect of all 3 is sweating a lot. Thank you medications.

Sweating wasn’t the only toll. The physical toll was brutal. My sore muscles from walking around so much would have gone away with time as I got used to being on my feet for 8 to 12 hours. Most of the people I worked with said that the soreness goes away eventually. The part no one really knew about was the toll it took on my head and my brain. As simple as it sounds, walking for a long time isn’t very good for my head. People don’t normally understand this aspect of a TBI, walking makes my brain bounce around inside my skull with each step I take.

Adjustments

I tried to adjust how I walk by taking smoother steps instead of the jarring steps we normally take. Running and jogging create an even greater jarring effect on my head. There’s no medication that can take of that. The job also required me to move pallets of boxes or steel parts around the store and outside for the night shift. Most of the pallets were very heavy. I would either push or pull the pallets with a pallet jack to wherever it needed to go. Depending on the size and weight of the load, I would either push or pull it to its destination to try and make it easier for me. The forklift wasn’t allowed inside the store, which sucked.

In order to keep the loads on the pallets from falling off, we wrapped them with saran wrap. The best way to do this is to hold the roll of saran wrap in both hands, walk in a circle around the pallet, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top of the pallet, and wrapping it between 10 to 20 times. That’s 10 to 20 circles around the pallet. Anyone who has done a ‘keg stand’ knows what I’m talking about. Since dizziness is a constant worry for me, walking around in circles 10 to 20 times is not in the cards for me. This is where being a supervisor came in handy, I asked one of my co-workers to wrap it for me. I did try a couple times, but when I got massively dizzy and nauseous and almost threw up, I knew that was a task I couldn’t do.

As with most construction/remodeling, there is a lot of trash. With trash, also comes recycling. Trash isn’t just trash anymore, it has to be separated. Plastic, cardboard, metal, and just regular old trash. Each form of trash had its own obstacles for me. Reaching up over my head, like reaching to grab something off a high shelf, taking something apart where I have to reach, even putting things into a giant dumpster that’s taller than me, is usually instant nausea and dizziness. Just reaching over my head once is ok, it still effects me, but it’s a faster recovery. I’m tall so I usually have to help short people get something off a tall shelf whenever I go to a store. Not a problem. Doing it for extended periods of time is no good.

When I could, I would use a forklift to throw heavy things away, like metal into the metal dumpster. Those were always a lot taller than me. If I couldn’t use the forklift, I would have to throw it into the dumpster manually. To make it easier, I would throw the metal from farther away and throw less material so it was lighter and I could chuck it farther and higher. The forklift was much easier. Reaching was probably the worst part for me. To make things easier, I used a ladder when I could too.

Failure

Do I think I failed at this job? In a way I do. I don’t like failing or not being able to do something and finish it. But it does happen to me. That’s how I learn my limitations. It was a good job and I was good at it, even after not working for 20 years. It wasn’t a failure if I look at it from that perspective. I started off as a manager and wasn’t promoted through another position. Some people asked how I got the job and if I hadn’t worked in retail prior to this job. I didn’t really have a good answer for that question. The last time I did a retail job was in the early 1990s. Construction/remodeling jobs have a lot of moving parts, and I was good at organizing those moving parts. It is still kind of crushing to know that I ‘can’t’ do something.

The End of it

My girlfriend and I would talk every day about the job. We both came to the same conclusion, this job wasn’t for me. It’s easy to say that, but to walk into the office and talk to my manager about it was the hard part. The job took the life out of me. I was exhausted every day, I didn’t feel good at all, and with each passing day it was getting worse. After 2 weeks, I got the courage to talk to my boss and I gave a weeks notice. Things were getting worse for me, but I couldn’t just quit without any notice. I still put in a full day’s work on my last day.

I left work that day and drove straight home. It was a big sense of relief and I don’t regret my decision at all. My shirt was soaked with sweat and I was sore. The 2 hour drive home was actually relaxing. The air conditioning in my car was on full blast and by the time I got home, my shirt was somewhat dryer and I had cooled off. I unpacked my stuff and took the what was probably the best shower of my life. The sweat was gone, I felt clean, I washed that job away, and I can spend more time with my family again. I slept for 10 hours that night.

Apologies

I would like to apologize for not entering my blog posts as often as I would like. I will do my best to write my blog posts on a more frequent schedule. The job I had basically killed me on a physical level due to my disability. I did resign from that job and spent the last few days relaxing and trying to get back to normal. But I will write more about that in my next blog post. Thank you to my readers and followers for understanding.

Resignation

Since I started working again, things weren’t going so well. Not because I didn’t like my job, but because of the nature of the job. I was on my feet for 8 to 10 hours per day. That’s not exactly good for my head with all of the damage inside there. Supervisory Project Coach was my official title, project manager can describe it too. It is still amazing to me that I got hired as a project manager after not working for almost 20 years. It was a good job with a lot of potential. But potential doesn’t make the pain go away or make me less dizzy or nauseous. I almost threw up once, I fell down once, I lost my balance countless times. No one seemed to notice I think. The important thing is that I noticed and it got to a point to where I knew I would put myself in a dangerous situation if I continued.

Today I turned in my resignation. It was very difficult for me because I don’t like to fail. Just about every aspect of my life has limitations, and I found my work limitations. Physical work, nope, not going to happen. This includes just being on my feet for 10 hours a day. Something easy for most people, but not for me. I didn’t just quit on the spot, I said my last day would be a week from today. Burning bridges isn’t what I do. They were understanding of course. I didn’t want to keep going and put myself or someone else in a situation where I or someone else could get injured. Admitting that I can’t do something is extremely hard, especially when it’s something I could very easily do prior to my accident. That thought never entered my mind when I was in college. I would just work harder if I was stuck on something. Physical work is a whole different story, if I work harder, I feel much worse.

What’s next?

Prior to taking this job, it was basically a decision of economics. A salary is much better that commission with regards to a paycheck. But it seems that selling insurance is a good fit for me. There is remote work, or office work. There is more flexibility with regards to schedules, but there is also discipline involved. I can’t be complacent and I will have to work hard. I can look at this job like school, working harder will bring greater reward.

My family

The job I chose was a traveling job so I wasn’t home with my kids every day. I know my son wants me to be home, and my daughter too. My daughter probably wants me home just so she doesn’t have to buy groceries and spend her own money. That’s a joke, for the most part. There are weekends where I wouldn’t be able to come home, which means not seeing my girlfriend either. So, the job I chose takes a toll on more than just my body. It effects my family too. But I need to be able to support my family too.

The New Job

My new job will have less paycheck security, but I will get out what I put into it. If I’m not doing well enough, I will need to work harder. That’s the nature of that business. My recruiter has been very open about it and he is very easy to talk to. There has been no pressure and no sales pitches about the job. That gives me a sense of trust. Am I good at sales? I have absolutely no idea. What I am good at is talking to people. That’s one of my gifts I think. Building relationships with people is important in every aspect of life. There is 3 months of training, by the end of the training I should know if I will be good at it. Other insurance companies I applied for didn’t have this level of training. Training mostly consisted of telling us how much money they made, just not how they did it. So I’ll see how it goes. But I look forward to starting this new job and not feeling like crap at the end of each day.

Recent

I can say that there’s been a lot going on lately. Working was something that I have been planning on for a while now. That’s why I went back to college to get my degree. Although I have been forced to go back to work, I still need to find a career that I can actually do. Limitations are a huge part of my life and my disabilities didn’t suddenly disappear. Being forced to go back to work isn’t a good feeling physically. Mentally, working will give me something I haven’t had in many years, a purpose.

My First Job

I started working as a project manager. That is a pretty good feeling to start off as a manager and learning a lot. I have a lot to learn of course. The people I work with are nice and have been treating me well as a new employee. There is a lot of potential, but it will take time. My biggest hurdle is the toll it is taking on me. I am on my feet all day and I spend a lot of time outside in the heat. At the end of the day, I can say I did a good job and learned more. It is a traveling job and I spend time away from home. The time away varies, but I’ve only been there for a short time so this is my first job.

For most people, this job would be relatively easy. From what I’ve seen, no one really has a problem with the physical aspect of the job. For me, it’s a different story. I am sore and tired at the end of the day. The soreness would probably go away at some point, once I got used to it. The dizziness and nausea are what worry me. There’s also an unfortunate side effect of my medications, sweating. It’s just gross and uncomfortable. My shirt gets soaked whether I’m inside or outside. I show up for work, after 5 minutes, the sweat just pours out as soon as I start walking. Just from walking, that’s not normal. My arm hair sweats, I have sweat coming out of places I didn’t know existed.

Effects

I fell down today while I was carrying a box. There was another box on the floor and my foot found it. It was like a slow motion fall, like watching a building tip over. Nothing happened and I was fine. One of the other managers saw it happen. I don’t think anyone knows about my disability and my history, so he just saw it as an accident and no big deal. It scared me a little bit. It’s hard to admit that I am suffering and really have no energy after I get off of work.

Will things improve if I keep working at this job? What if they do improve? What if they don’t improve? How much time do I give it? It hasn’t been too much time so far, but it is taking a toll on me. And it worries me. Enduring my limitations every single day is not fun at all. I was late to work this morning, slept right through my alarm. My body is telling me what I can’t do. It isn’t a good feeling knowing I can’t do a job that should be relatively easy for me.

Realizations

Well, I have known for many years that I have limitations. There’s only so much I can do. I like to test my limitations sometimes. Usually by just doing yard work or something like that. When I push my limits, I pay for it physically. I am very familiar with dizziness and nausea, but they are not my friends.

This job isn’t all that physical, a lot of walking around, carrying things, but nothing too extreme. I found out the first day how my body was going to react. Realizing that my limits weren’t going to change simply by having a job, I had to find a job where my talents would be more important than my limitations and where I wouldn’t have to test my limits on a daily basis. Where I wouldn’t come home exhausted and feeling like crap. But I had to try. That was more important to me than anything, trying.

Aftermath of my Article

After my article was published, I received a lot of feedback from readers. So far in my writing career I consider a lot of feedback as any feedback. Feedback is feedback, both good and bad. There were some negative comments which related to getting my degree in an ’employable field’. I can’t even really say what that means, as any degree is an employable field. Another one was telling me not to make excuses as to why I can’t find a job. Most of the comments were very supportive by a wide array of people. Many of them gave me very helpful advice and different things to try. I am most appreciative of the individuals that put the time in to send me an email and offer their services (for free). It is extremely gratifying to know that there are people out there willing to help.

Thick Skin

After everything that I have been through, I have developed a pretty thick skin. Negativity doesn’t affect me very much, it simply gives me an alternate point of view. During my college career, Professors always point out the bad points, and the good points of assignments. Well, most do that, some just point out the bad. Either way, it gives me more information on how to improve. During the most difficult times of my recovery, I had to face certain facts and realities. Simple things like walking, turning my head, getting dressed, not being able to do whatever I want, were realities I had difficulty with. Every single thing I did was difficult. Many still are.

Many people are blissfully unaware of what I go through. People look at me or talk to me and think there is nothing wrong with me simply because I look and act like a normal person. Yes, I can do things like wash my car, yardwork, talk, laugh, smile, travel, write, graduate from college, but these seemingly small things are extremely difficult for me. Writing a paper or article takes me days or even weeks to write. Physical things are the worst. I can only do so much and then I have to rest. No one really sees that part, and probably don’t even think about it.

The Louvre

Frustration

It is incredibly frustrating to sit here at my computer and look at my screen for 3 hours and write absolutely nothing. The article I wrote took 3 days to write. Writing my blog posts takes hours, and they are relatively short. I do it because I enjoy it, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Everyone who puts themselves out into the public eye faces criticism of all kinds. The thick skin is a necessity to survive. Frustration is just annoying and I don’t like it.

Accolades

Who doesn’t like accolades? These are affirmations that I (or you) did something right in someone’s eye. An affirmation from a close friend or family member is far different than an affirmation from a total stranger. Most of us place more importance on an affirmation from a stranger than a close friend or family member. Why? Because family and friends normally have to agree. Who is going to tell you that your baby is the most hideous thing they have ever seen? Probably no one, but a total stranger might.

For the accolades I received and the personal messages, I can’t thank those individuals enough. There are good and decent people out there. I hope my article can help someone in some small way. I wasn’t paid for my article, but that doesn’t matter to me at all. It would have been nice of course, but has no bearing on the content of that article, or any others I submit in the future.

Overcoming Obstacles and Accomplishing Goals

My apologies for not posting anything the last few days. It turned into a hectic end of the week and weekend.

Published Writer

I accomplished a goal over the weekend. An article I wrote a few weeks ago was published in an Arizona news website. It was an article I wrote my job search, about being disabled, 50 years old, and no recent work experience, and how it effected my job search. The article is just my experience and probably not typical of everyone looking for employment. It was apparent that ageism and ableism are prevalent still. I sent out over 60 resumes and cover letters. It was a grueling process that I started over 6 months prior to my graduation date.

Writing the article was difficult for me. My job search was getting to a point where I wanted to give up at times. There was no way I could give up, but I wanted to. Due to other circumstances, I have no choice but to return to work, so I couldn’t just give up. What was extremely disheartening, was recruiters calling and emailing me and asking why I have the 20 year gap in my work history. I freely gave the explanation, then never hearing back from them. Everything about my interviews and contacts for jobs was great until they learned about the gap in my work history. I can’t say for sure why I never heard back, but I can speculate.

In all honesty, I didn’t pay any mind to the rejections at first. As my search went on, it was becoming evident that I had a lot of things working against me. It was so stressful simply due to the fact that I have a family to support and a home to maintain. I needed to find a job ASAP after I graduated.

Writing the article made me focus on why I needed to keep going and keep applying. It was stressful beyond belief. I was grumpy, a little depressed, short tempered, and my kids and my girlfriend were noticing. That is not who I am as a person. That level of stress will probably stick around until I get my first paycheck, which will come soon.

I wrote the article a few weeks ago, prior to accepting a job as a project manager with Walmart. I have no idea how it will go, but I look forward to working again and meeting new people. It could turn into a career position. And I will see if I can actually do the job. It is a good start for me and I look forward to the future now, instead of wondering what ‘might’ happen and the stress.

Accomplishment

To tell the truth, I have only submitted 5 or 6 articles and 1 article was published. I think those are pretty good odds. I have other articles submitted and I am going to write more articles on various issues in the world and the country. The sense of pride I feel can’t be described. I have received emails from people who read the article and have offered advice on my job search. People have been extremely supportive. My goal was to spread awareness, but also to become published.

I graduated from college, I am a published writer, I am starting to work again, things are looking brighter for me. I hope that I can put this stressful period to bed and go back to my normal self.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2022/08/27/recent-college-grad-disabled-why-cant-land-job/7886122001/

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