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Karen Allendoerfer

Get sick, avoid burnout

April 9, 2007 at 9:46 PM

A "cold" is too benign a word for what I just went through. "The sniffles." Bah. Who makes this stuff up?

But I'm finally feeling better, and I still haven't practiced. It's been a week. More than a week--who am I kidding? I feel like I'm emerging from a cave. At least it's sunny outside.

I also had an evaluation at work today, which went surprisingly well. Fortunately my boss didn't evaluate my performance over the past two weeks, which was close to non-existent. She was also realistic and kind, unlike the evaluation sheet she was required to fill out, that had items like: "Takes the initiative in setting ambitious goals and regularly achieves them. Consistently maintains high standards and frequently exceeds them . . . " Again, who makes this stuff up?

Dropping off the face of the earth for an extended period of time made me realize that I have to achieve a better balance, somehow, between everything that I'm doing and not doing. Getting sick may have, paradoxically, kept me from burning out. Practically every day I was calling someone and cancelling something. I was saying no. It got old. But it also felt empowering: No (cough cough). Really, no, sorry (cough, hack, cough cough). No to ambitious goals! No to exceeding high standards! No! No! No! (cough, hack, hack, cough, cough, cough).

I caught the virus from my 3-year-old, but I think it hit me so hard because I was feeling so stressed out in general. Reading these blogs, it's clear that I'm not alone. I read the article about Joshua Bell busking this morning and I thought about myself. Would I have stopped and listened to him? Probably, just because he's a violinist and I rarely if ever see violinists busking. But I might not have--I might have been so intent on getting home or to work early so that I could finish and get home early, trying to keep my mouth covered, coughing all the while. I deal poorly with interruptions under the best of circumstances, and under the worst . . . I've thought about that a lot in the context of ADD diagnosis and treatment, too. It's hard for me to focus in the best of times. Being sick (or hungry or tired) makes the ADD worse. Does this make me a bad person? A philistine? A "ghost"? Unable to appreciate beauty? And therefore somehow morally deficient?

Rather than thinking there's something wrong with the people who didn't stop and listen, I find it more fruitful to think there's also something wrong with the situation. I want to be able to lead a life where it's okay to stop and listen to a busker, where I don't have to "set ambitious goals and exceed them" on a regular basis.

I'm glad I have overall such a good job and boss. And to have the opportunities to make better choices. I'm looking forward to practicing again. Finally.

From parmeeta bhogal
Posted on April 10, 2007 at 9:04 AM
Totally agree with you Karen!
Am in the process of translating a major document on evaluations, and I often wonder about the same thing: who on earth writes this stuff? Although I am not paid to think about it...

The same thought crossed my mind when people commented that they didn't want to lose their jobs because they were late. Surely there must be something wrong if thats our first thought...does a few minutes make that much of difference to the jobs that these people were going to? obviously they thought so, and thats whats stressful (and sad): a life where you just can't take the time out to be aware of whats going on around you.

Hope you are feeling better today.

From Bernardo B
Posted on April 10, 2007 at 4:05 PM
"I might have been so intent on getting home or to work early so that I could finish and get home early" - Karen, I hear you! It sounds so much like my own life!! Hope you feel better soon!
From Sarah Montoro
Posted on April 10, 2007 at 10:36 PM
where did you read the article on Joshua bell busking??
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 11, 2007 at 1:52 AM
There's a link to the Joshua Bell busking article at the top of the Discussion thread called "Joshua Bell: Busker?" The thread has already hit 100 responses!
From Sarah Montoro
Posted on April 12, 2007 at 1:30 PM
thanks

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