I survived, even thrived, through Change of Command. It was a flurry of events once the incoming Commodore arrived at work on Sunday morning, ramping up to a whole 'nother level of intensity when the Admiral came in three days later. It all went amazingly smoothly. I pretty much just hung on for the ride, enjoying the fruits of the preparation we had done prior to it all kicking off. I credit the event's success to the attention to detail of the three (yes, three: one for the ceremony, one for the relief week schedule, and one for the distinguished visitor visit) Project Officers that worked completely seamlessly together, kept me well informed, and maybe a smidge to my tight grip of worry and constant attention to making sure things stayed on schedule (Control Freak Tendencies were at full throttle for about 48 hours). There were a few hiccups, a handful of last minute changes, and at least one moment of abject fear.
There I was, on stage in front of nearly 200 people. I had just introduced the presiding official, and happened to glance at the next few lines of the script, so I knew when I needed to check back in (not that I wasn't paying attention to the Admiral's remarks...I just needed a moment or two to regroup). And realized the next part that required anything from me was reading the outgoing Commodore's award citation. Oh, holy mother of heavens...the award citation!! Where the blazes was it?!? I had been told it was being hand carried in, but I hadn't actually put eyes on it. I frantically looked around the room, and found someone whose phone number I had in my phone (which I am still amazed I actually had on me; working in a secure space means I don't always take it with me these days when I leave my office) standing next to the Change of Command Project Officer. I texted him frantically. Then texted him again. And again. I'm pretty sure one of the texts was simply, "Help!" The multiple texts got his attention, and he checked his phone. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw him showing the screen to the Project Officer, who then calmly walked around the back of the room over to the Admiral's Aide (who was standing off-stage, out of my sight, so I had no idea he was there) to verify he had the award. He did, thank my lucky stars! And when the time came, he calmly carried the citation and medal box up to the stage and handed it to the Admiral for presentation. Thankfully I already had a copy of the citation in my script, so it looked as if we had planned it that way.
When I chatted briefly with the Aide after the ceremony, he assured me he had it under control the whole time, and told me to trust him. I shot back, "Trust, yes, absolutely, but verify. Trust, but verify." We both laughed.
And the cakes were delicious. I liked the chocolate one a tad bit better.
Random Thought #2:
I have eight days left in my second month-long challenge. At last count, I have said 28 cusswords in the last 22 days, and have had seven days where I said no cusswords at all.
Uh, I just looked up what the 28th number in the sequence is, and almost choked. I am going to have to change my rules somehow. The 28th number in the Fibonacci sequence is 371,811. I really want to say a cussword right now. But that definitely defeats the purpose. Because the 29th number is 514,229. I'm laughing now, which is good. Ok, new rule: for every cuss-free day, I can take one number off my tally. So for now, with seven cuss-free days, I can reduce 28 to 21, which is still $10,946...but with some self control and awareness, I can work down to 14, which is only $377. Talk about effective motivation...
So that was really just part A of RT#2.
B. I'm getting things I didn't expect to get out of these two challenges I've done so far. With the letter writing, it was how easy it was to fill barely three sides of a note card to people I care about. And how, just when my enthusiasm for it was flagging, I started receiving word back that people were getting my letters and enjoying them, which reinvigorated the fun in it.
This time, instead of feeling constrained by the limitations like I thought I would, I'm learning to slow down and pay attention to what I say before it comes out of my mouth. Which is a lesson I desperately have needed to learn for a very long time. I get a sense just before I say something, based on the thought I'm trying to communicate, that my default expression would be a cuss word. I've learned to pay attention to that sense so I can modify the words before I say them. It's much more profound than this description here is making it out to be. Maybe it's the **Intention of Observation** that I'm actually cultivating. Because that's something I can apply throughout my life, personally and professionally, and not just to not cussing for a month.
Funny story about not cussing. At the Eagles and Anchors (Officers and Chiefs) event the evening after the Change of Command, I was standing around chatting with a couple of the Chiefs. I have no idea of what we were talking about, and I was about half-way through my cup of white wine, so I was starting to get a little um...expansive in my communication style (more arm waving and emphasis on Very Important Points). Whatever I was saying required an f-bomb. I got the F and U out, before I realized what I was doing, and was able to stop myself before the C and K were uttered. It came out a little choked, and I apologized for garbling things. The Chiefs thought I was apologizing for almost saying the f-word (as if!), so I explained to them what had actually happened. They asked a few polite questions about my year of challenges, including what I expected my hardest challenge to be. And laughed understandingly when I said it was February's...where I am challenging myself to use the stairs to or from my flat at least once a day...no easy feat when I live on the 19th floor...
But back to the intention of observation. Because that really has been a fundamental shift for me. If I can observe what I'm feeling, and explore that, instead of simply reacting to it, I keep myself much more grounded in a sense of personal/emotional space that I want to be in. I can notice myself being upset, recognize I'm upset, and adjust my external reaction based on knowing I'm upset. It doesn't work perfectly every time, of course. I still say stupid things, and react poorly in some situations. But that's happening slightly less frequently...which is absolutely better than every single time.
Random Thought #3:
I passed my two-month mark in country. I was wondering why I was feeling a little antsy, and realized I haven't been in one probably eight-mile radius for this long in...jeesh, I'm not sure I can remember. Back stateside, I was always taking off on the weekends, or traveling for work, or using every excuse I could find to get out of the city, or before DC, getting underway and sailing off to new places. For the last two months and one week, my radius of existence has shrunk. Furthest afield I have been is probably the one trip to Bahrain Defense Force Hospital, which is 8.1 miles away from where I'm sitting in my flat right now. And one trip to the Harley Davidson dealership (ooh, good story there!! maybe relevant to the next Random Thought...). And one trip yesterday out to the not-quite-open-yet Ikea store. It's not bad, one way or the other. Just different. Not what I'm used to.
In some ways, I really like that probably more than 95% of my time is spent in a less than two mile radius, that I either walk or bike around. It feels much more personal. I'm starting to recognize the potholes in the roads I bike; the car washers who are working so hard when I pass them on my way in to work in the morning; the gate guards at the Indonesian Embassy; the neighbors tending their sun-beaten landscaping. I'm watching a house be built, seeing progress every day, from digging the holes for the footers, to filling in the trenches, to the walls going up...and that's as far as they've gotten. But before long, I'm sure I'll see furniture moving in, and maybe people living there. There is an intimacy with details that comes with living in a close space.
And an expanded excitement that comes with moving out of that space on the few occasions I do. Everything is new to look at, and slightly different from the things I've been seeing constantly. That may be why I was so tickled by the donkey I saw in the back of a truck yesterday. Just riding along, ears twitching and muscles shifting as they turned corners, didn't seem perturbed by much of anything that was going on around him...made me laugh at the absurdity of things.
I've added a goal to my list for this year. I want to enter a Story Slam. Maybe The Moth, but maybe another after I do some more research. It's another venue for telling my stories. I'm fairly comfortable talking in front of crowds...I've been doing it a lot lately. I have good stories to tell, sometimes even complete with profound lessons...or at least profound to me.
Two first steps I can see I need to start with: pick a story and pick a slam.
Picking a story is harder than it seems at first blush. Many of my stories are sea stories, which require some fundamental understanding of life on a Coast Guard cutter...or lots of time to explain how things are and why they are that way...and story slams have a time limit. So maybe the cross-country motorcycle trip? But what part of that? I started telling the cadets some of that story, and realized there are lots and lots of tendrils to it, lots of side roads to travel down, if you will. Or the story about the deformed o-ring I wear as a necklace?...which is a sea story and requires a visual of the o-ring, which might not work from a slam stage. Or the trip to the Harley shop here in Bahrain which started out very frustratingly, but ended up with camel's milk and plants in my house and office? Not sure that one is actually long enough.
Picking a slam requires some research. And some knowledge of my future schedule. I get overwhelmed with too many options, so I'm not sure which is really the harder part of this piece.
But there it is. On public record with a new goal. More to follow.