Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Working in an Office

Well, here I am working at my office on Wellness Wednesday. My job is explaining products that help patients achieve a greater level of wellness. The work is very slow, which is why I have time to get to figure out how to use my new iMac, as well as blog here---this may be a good thing. 

It's funny that I'm working in an office supporting wellness, because I'm thinking that working in an office environment might not really support my own wellness.

I'm in an office which is very nice as far as offices go. It doesn't have any windows (unlike my house) so I feel like I'm in a nice walk-in closet. It is also very, very warm. Sauna-warm, which everyone else here likes. LoveHubbie brought in a fan, which helps circulate the air and makes a big difference; I can already tell I'm going to be less drained today than yesterday.

The weather outside is at last delightful, and I'm indoors. Admittedly, my timing has been off for some time.

I keep appealing to the altruistic side of me, the part that really, really wants to help people. I want to make a difference! I also keep appealing to the my ambitious side, the part that wants to build a business. I also keep telling myself that I need to stick with this for a while and see if I can earn some money, that it takes time. And I really don't want to let anyone down. Despite the appeals, I still am not having any success in being happy about being inside. About being here.

Ok, so I hate it. 

Last night I had nightmares about being arrested by the US Government and dunked naked into a cesspool of smelly water swimming with large worms that attached themselves to me like leeches. I was going to jail for at least a year and wouldn't be allowed access to any of the things I needed. It was a rather severe jail without any amenities or services (like newspapers or television or medical care). It was really hot there too. I woke up screaming and with a bad migraine. 

This was not a good sign.

I could tell it was a sign, too, and that I should listen to it even though I don't want to.

Today I've been reflecting in my closet office. I really want to make a contribution here, but I'm not yet convinced that this is going to work for me. More than anything I miss my "mind freedom"---the many opportunities I had during the day to let my mind roam free, to think about things, to mull things over during mindless but oh-so-calming household tasks. I think that a lot of my days at home were spent in a kind of meditation, wandering around doing things but also absorbing the beauty of nature. I also miss the schedule freedom---the ability to plan out my day and to build in exercise and creative breaks and appointments. I was outside and inside, moving around, walking and exercising. It feels like I've lost so much. LoveHubbie says, "That's what work is." 

I disagree with LoveHubbie. I could still build my business while working from home, but do it while making calls as I'm walking on my driveway or sitting on my deck in the garden. Or folding laundry. Doing the dishes. Opening the mail. Dang it, I miss my UPS man even and it's only been two days. 

When I'm in this office I feel like a prisoner.

What's the point of me having my own wellness business if it doesn't serve my own personal wellness? I may as well work for a salary instead. At least then I'm exchanging my life energy and creativity and precious time for money (I currently just earn a least in theory, because I haven't made anything at all yet in the past two days).

I made a commitment so I won't quit, but I may have just talked myself into reducing my hours. Dramatically. We'll see.


thailandchani said...

Definitely! Definitely! Definitely! There is no such thing as a healthy office environment or one that allows us to feel as though we own our own existences. You can absolutely build your business from home. My vote? (If I had one.. :) Get out while you can!


Olivia said...

I hear you, Chani! That's pretty much what it feels like. I don't know how one COULD make it healthy. It's tough. Thanks for your vote, you do have one :) xo, O

patti said...

Olivia I worked in offices for most of my life and it was such a relief for me to be able to get out of the dry, static atmosphere, the grey/beige closed in environment and monotonous work. It was killing me!

I need fresh air, not air conditioning and plenty of light and like you I have grown used to this and wouldn't cope if it was taken away.

I do belive that it is possible to work AND be in an environment that nourishes you. You are not wanting to compromise and nor should you. That dream was quite a reaction!

If you are selling wellness, you need to be well yourself or no-one will have belief in your product.

Good luck with marrying your work needs with your wellbeing - it can be done :)

Olivia said...

Thank you, too, Patti. Gosh that is what it feels like to me as well after just two days! Probably because I am accustomed to something so different. And the office is even nice with nice people. It just is so difficult. I will figure out a way to work it out, thanks for the encouragement.

Wow, so you two gals agree and totally get where I'm coming from. So far it's 2-0!

Love and blessings,


Rick Hamrick said...

O--why is it not possible to have people make appointments, then go into the office once or twice a week, meet with the folks already booked, and head home?

Right now, you seem to be in danger of being taken advantage of. Your time is no less valuable than anyone else's time, so if it is slow, you should not even be there.

Insist on your time being productive--in other words, booked appointments with clients--or simply refer them to a phone number which they can call at their convenience.

For the record, offices don't kill people. People hating offices kill their own spirits. Is it an ideal environment? No, but I have had a ton of fun in office environments. And, I'm fine with never working in one again, so don't paint me as a vote in the other direction. I certainly don't love the typical office environment.

It is a mistake to pretend that it is the office which is the problem for people, though. If an office is your worst nightmare, be glad you never experienced the myriad of human conditions a thousand times worse.

Just seeking to invoke a bit of perspective in this discussion!

Olivia said...

Hi, Rick,

Well, I can't really book appointments because they don't know who the patients are who are going to be seen who will need product consultations. Many patients will need nothing; some are already on the products, and it's impossible to tell until the doctor visit is over.

Today I was supposed to go in for just two appointments and was going to go home in between them but the doctor ran late and so there really wasn't enough time. I was there for 7 hours.

As per usual, I have to learn how to manage this myself and to stand up for myself, that's for sure.

Well, I appreciate your perspective Rick and of course you are right about offices not killing people. However, I think this is a communication problem; I explain this to LoveHubbie often. Sometimes when women give analogies or use language that seems exaggerated, it is the feeling that they are trying to capture and convey. Here this is the case. It is hard to convey the soul-crushing spirit-searing feeling that can happen to some of us sensitive souls in certain situations! I think that this is what we were describing; I know it's what I was trying to convey.

Years ago I had great fun in offices, and as a white collar worker for multiple corporations, never gave any other environment a second thought. I was a systems anlayst, and in the 80's you could only do that in an office. However, after having quite a few jobs (always with raises and promotions), I eventually got CFIDS. Each time I'd try to go back to work (and a "good" income) I got sick and relapsed.

Eventually I realized there were other options, other ways to work.

I have never been arrested, nor dropped in a cesspool with or without worms---both of which would be objectively much worse than office work. Yet, with my active nighttime imagination, the feeling was what I would feel. This makes no rational sense except that perhaps I'm overly sensitive, and probably I am.

However, I do suspect that if I was forced into this situation---office work---by necessity, I would have to sedate or numb or drink or drug myself to death, or get ill as a conversion reaction. After last night and today I know this. I think that this is my inner voice telling me that other work is something much better for me to seek out.

Well, this is a great discussion and each person's comments is helping me to introspect and learn more.

Much love, Rick,


Heather Plett said...

My advice? If you have to be in an office, make it a space you can live with. Hang art on the wall, drape fabric over bookshelves, bring in some toys to play with when you need a distraction. It can make a BIG difference.

Olivia said...

Thanks, Heather. I appreciate your ideas. Blessings, O

CrystalChick said...

Hmmm.... I just don't know which way to go with an opinion.

If I didn't know how unhappy you were there, I would say that you look excited and ready for a new adventure from the photo. But of course the office space is lacking in anything really personal, other than your warm being. If you decide to stay, or atleast stay for just awhile longer, bring things there to make you happier. A couple of good books that would help to uplift your spirit. Read a chapter or two in between clients. A beautiful plant. Art for the walls. Something aromatherapy related maybe that would also be uplifting, like lemon or orange scents?? A lamp that has better light, rather than having the florescent overhead ones one all the time. A sound machine or a cd player.
Lots of things you could try and do to make the office time better.

But if you absolutely cannot do it, then work on another plan to earn money from home if you have to have an income.

Good luck!!

Olivia said...

Some great ideas, Mary. I am sure you didn't know because it has only been two days...and I didn't really know either...I had great expectations though and then some surprises.

In my photo I was posing for LoveHubbie. I think I go through a lot of my life posing; somehow it is easier to be real here.

Thank you for your support, Mary,



groovysabrina said...

Hi Olivia!
I also liked your photo. You look full of productive energy.

On readjusting to office life: I know that whenever I have first started a job, the first day or so are always the most difficult in terms of the new environment and wellness. I have gotten headaches, eye pain, fatigue, and mostly impatience. I remember my first day of work here left me completely drained! Sitting for 8 hours seems so unnatural! But after some time, I adjust, I get used to sitting, take short and much-needed breaks at specific times and also go for a long walk during lunch. I think any new experience/routine requires some time for our bodies and minds to adjust. The sedentary office life may require some special personal training, just as any new physical routine would, such as a marathon or a mountain hike.

Of course, if you still feel bummed about the new routine after a few more days or weeks, I know you have the capacity and creativity to find a more perfect solution for yourself. And then I'd strongly suggest that you go for it!
Best wishes!

Olivia said...


I like your idea of special personal training for a sedentary office life. Whatever time I spend there in the future, I think taking lots of breaks, stretches, etc. will help a lot.

As always it's great to see you here and I appreciate your sharing your experience, and giving your support. Thank you so much, Sabrina,

Love and blessings,


laundrygirl said...

You look great in that photo!
I guess the question is one Rick already asked: Is it the environment that bothers you or the lack of freedom?
As for the environment, I think you have been given some great suggestions. I hate offices and have worked in both cubicles and shared spaces. I always ended up bringing in stuff to make the place a little more tolerable. I like the idea of flowers, a plant or something that makes you feel more at home - like great art or even some of your special rocks...
The new hours, new people, new environment will all take getting used to. Go easy on yourself. You have mentioned how hard it is for you to be among new people. Take it easy and don't jump to any quick conclusions... That's my humble advice.

Angela said...

"When I'm in this office I feel like a prisoner."

That's really all you need to know, O. Prisoners aren't usually able to offer much help to others. :) I recognize your desires and applaud them and know that you'll hit on something. The good thing is you don't HAVE to do it, right?

Olivia said...

Thanks, Kristine :)

Well, I think it's both the environment (no windows, hot, sitting at a desk) and lack of freedom. For example, I sit at my desk at home for long periods of time, but I can (and do) get up really often, am dressed comfortably, and can start and stop at times of my choosing. There also may be control issues; I don't like waiting for others as a job, but to initiate things myself.

Rationally, it makes no sense. I've tried to figure this out logically and can't.

I think it will take some time for me to work out, and I agree that all of the wonderful suggestions are helpful.

I think that there is something at a level of unawareness that is involved. I was offered a low hourly wage along with this position, but turned it down. One reason is that I'm used to making many times over that hourly wage, and I'd feel like I was cheating myself. But there seems to be something just inherently WRONG to me about selling my time. At other times of my life this was important to me, so it isn't a moral issue. It's just that it's wrong for me right now.

It's a bit frustrating not to understand the WHY of all of this, but at least I know the WHAT.

You all have been so helpful to me, so thank you for helping me to explore this!

Blessings and love,


Olivia said...


You're absolutely right. There is something I KNOW about this...figuring out the why would be great for the future, but it's fine to just deal with right now.

The beautiful thing is that there are many choices here. We have amazing flexibility in this country in how we work, what we do, and how we do it...I'm going to take advantage of that!

Peace, joy, and love,


Leah said...

Oh, I completely know what you mean about the office environment!! I never did well in those spaces. I think I'm sensitive in similar ways as you are and over time the environment of office space was clearly not a good fit for me.

I know you'll find the right solution for you, Olivia. I love the picture of you!

Olivia said...

Yes, Leah, it's such an interesting thing. Like a hypersensitivity or something. Thanks for your support and kind words :) xo, O