Thursday, March 29, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Pet Therapy
Following the great pastry debate and my refusal to use PowerPoint, tension hung in the air. Brittany, the world’s happiest intern, arrived with Fluffy the Pitbull. Daniel lost his mind.

“Brittany!” Daniel said, “We talked about this. You can’t bring that dog in here.” Brittany might have been intimidated by Daniel’s tone had Daniel not dropped to his knees to cradle Fluffy’s face and scratch his ears.  The happy dog licked Daniel’s chin. Daniel scratched Fluffy’s back and the dog’s stub of a tail looked like it might wag off his body.

“OK, enough of that,” Daniel said as he got up to grab a lint brush from the conference room closet. Fluffy walked into the no man’s land between Weedman and Devin. The two men bent down to scratch Fluffy. To my amazement, they smiled at each other.

“Please take the animal to your cubicle,” The New Boss said, sounding like a boss. I looked up in time to catch him wink and give the thumbs up to Brittany. Knowing staff meetings could be tense, he’d arranged for Fluffy to provide some pet therapy. I found a new respect for him.

Today I will use a little pet therapy.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Standing Apart
When we got past the great donut debate, Jackie asked me to update the group on my training. I told them I was revising my handout, but otherwise I was ready to go.

Devin asked, “When you say ‘handout’ do you mean printed copies of your PowerPoint slides?”

“No,” I said, “I mean written notes. I don’t use PowerPoint. We discuss booklets I create.”

“Everybody does PowerPoint,” he insisted. “People expect it.”  My new colleagues nodded in agreement.

There was a time when I would have said ‘I will start working on my PowerPoint slides today!’ Instead, I said, “It’s OK, people will remember my presentation because it’s different.”

Devin tried to draw me into an argument about it, but I just shook my head.  Over the years, not drinking set me apart from many people. I’d learned to stand my ground and not give into peer pressure. I’d come to admire people set apart for other reasons who stood their ground.

Today I will be willing to stand apart from the crowd.
  
Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, March 26, 2018


Of Pastries & Patience
Two days later I attended my first staff meeting at my new job. The gathering was what a friend used to call a ‘we done did that, see?’ meeting. It was an exercise in redundancy.  

Devin, who liked to be called ‘Driven,’ quoted self-help gurus and insisted tiny muffins, scones, and designer cookies projected an image of success and class.

Weedman, called Devin ‘Drivel’, and insisted bagels and donuts were perfectly acceptable if presented correctly.

“Is this something you two could discuss after the meeting?” Jackie from HR asked. Apparently it wasn’t.

They went on discussing pastry pros and cons for twenty minutes more.  

I thought about an AA meeting I’d attended with my first AA sponsor. After an hour and five minutes of the most boring speaker imaginable, I asked what I was supposed to learn from that.

“Patience,” my sponsor said. “You should be grateful for the opportunity to practice patience and acceptance.” I wasn’t grateful, but over time I did learn to be patient.  

Today I will try to practice being patient, even if I can’t be grateful.  

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose
Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, March 25, 2018


The Anger Gap
I went back to revising my training handout.   The seventh question asked, ‘Are you increasingly irritable?  More short tempered?’  The follow-up question read, ‘Ever extended your middle finger to another driver leaving the parking lot after a religious service?’

I wrote a margin note: ‘Anger Gap: How long after something soothing, happy, energizing, can you get angry?’

People early in recovery, going through chemical changes in their bodies and brains, struggle with anger.  They have a short anger gap. But as time goes on, people still quick to anger have to ask themselves am I too quick to let go of the good? Am I too quick to give into the anger?

I thought of someone who hit the lottery. According to his wife, he complained about having to pay taxes on his winnings ten seconds later. I was at a wedding where the bride married the man of her dreams, had the most beautiful reception, and was furious over the color of the napkins. (The paper coaster napkins were scarlet.  She had ordered crimson, dammit.)

I made a mental note to hold onto the good a little longer, give into anger a little slower.

Today I will hold onto the good just a little longer.


Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Friday, March 23, 2018


Unregrettable
“If you were going to poison someone, how would you do it?” Jackie asked. “Would you put something in their coffee? All at once or a little at a time?”  I waited for her to say ‘I’m just kidding, I would never do that!’  Nothing.

Like a lot of people who’ve been addicted, enraged, in love, or otherwise insane, I’d done a lot of things I regretted. Poisoning someone wasn’t one of them.

“I never poisoned anyone,” I said. “I wouldn’t know.” 

“Me neither. It was just a thought.”

I made a list of foolish things I hadn’t done that friends who were addicted, enraged, in love, or otherwise insane had done.  I was thankful I didn’t have those regrets.

Today I’ll be grateful for all the regrets I don’t have.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Human Resources
The phone rang. Jackie from Human Resources called to see if I had gotten the paperwork she sent.
“I finished it and mailed it back,” I said.

“Thank you! I wish everybody around here did their work on time. People have no idea what a burden it is chasing down paperwork.”

I decided not to tell her that for the first twenty years of my career my hate-hate relationship with paperwork had gotten me in trouble more times than I could count.  Or, how I’d added to people’s burdens in my drinking days by being irresponsible, late, and unreliable.

“No problem,” I said.

“The next time somebody’s late turning in their timesheets, I’m going to poison them. Not enough to kill them,” Jackie said. “That would be wrong. Just enough enough to make them sick. Give them diarrhea, maybe.”

I made a note never to add to Jackie’s burden.

Today I’ll try not to add to someone’s burden.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Do You Get My Drift?
The next burnout quiz question asked if people annoyed the reader by telling him he didn’t look so good lately.  The follow-up question read, “Do colleagues call the paramedics when you stop moving?” I wrote margin notes for discussing this question.

1) Unless there was some life-changing upheaval like an injury, most people didn’t become overwhelmed, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, overnight. Usually they stopped caring for themselves a little at a time.  They drifted into exhaustion.

2) Being tired and drifting are part of life.  Unless the oldest child was a terror, the youngest child enjoys freedoms his siblings only dreamed of.  His parents have drifted as they aged. (A comedian once said when the first child drops the pacifier you boil it. When the second child drops it, you rinse it in warm water. Should the third child drop her pacifier, you let the dog lick it -  their mouths are cleaner than ours.)

3) Too many recovering people drift into relapse.  They don’t take care of themselves and they get tired of the struggle. They have one little drink. They place one bet just to break the boredom. They text the abusive ex because it’s just a text, really.

I’d presented this training many times before.  Most people would agree they needed to take better care of themselves. They’d admit they tended to drift into self-neglect.  The majority would know they needed to beware of this drifting.  And at least a few would drift into not watching for drift. 

Today I’ll beware of drift.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, March 19, 2018


Stable Living
The next day I pulled up my handout for the burnout training. The audience would be the management team for a large conglomeration of methadone clinics, mental health centers, and a few abstinence-based drug and alcohol rehabs. 

The training would begin with a burnout quiz.  The first question would read: ‘Do you tire easily?’  A follow-up question would ask, “Ever tried to inject the coffee directly into your veins?”  The follow-up  question was tongue-in-cheek of course, but aimed at an important point. Chemical solutions don’t work for lifestyle issues. Coffee and energy drinks don’t replace sleep, at least not for very long.

Likewise, while Prozac may help a depressed person living a reasonably stable life, no amount of antidepressant was likely to lift spirits of somebody living with a stable full of jackasses.

Today I will ask myself if my issues are tied to my lifestyle.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/


Pulling Weeds
“Did you meet anybody else?” Brat Boy asked.

“A guy named Wedman that everybody calls Weedman.”

“He smokes a lot of weed?” Brat Boy asked.

“He weeds a lot. He’s into gardening.  He’s also in recovery from a porn addiction. Said pulling the weeds of that obsession meant getting rid of files on his phone and laptop, his work computer, and stuff hidden on his wife’s computer.”

“His wife’s computer? Seriously? Why doesn’t he just not use it?”

“He said if you don’t pull all the weeds, they grow back, with deeper roots. He had old magazines hidden in the garage,” I said. “They were his father’s.”

“And all you’re leaving me is a broken down lawnmower,” Brat Boy said, laughing.

Today I’ll pull the weeds.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Friday, March 16, 2018


Interestingly Involved
The kids asked me what the new boss was like. I compared him to my old boss.

“At the rehab we needed more detox beds. The Boss and senior management put together a plan, picked a design, looked into financing, and built a detox center. They were involved.”

“And this boss?” Blondie asked.

“I get the feeling he’d look at furniture and hospital supply catalogs, have lunch with people who run detoxes, and dump the whole thing on Daniel.  He’d only be interested in a detox, not involved.”

“So why do you want to work there?” Brat Boy asked.

“Because I can stay involved, even if the boss is only interested,” I said.

Brat Boy said, “There’s a lot of that ‘interested not involved’ stuff going around. Like people who ignore their kid unless he’s in trouble or a sports star.”

“People with strong opinions who don’t vote,” Blondie said.

“People who want to quit a bad habit, get over an addiction, but make no major life changes. Interested in recovery, not involved.”

Today I will be involved, not just interested.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Help
“The first guy I met was Daniel,” I said.  He’s sort of an office manager, trouble-shooter, den mother, and warden. He was cleaning his windows when I got there. Daniel told me he adopts elderly dogs. He always has two of them.  And a hand held vacuum in every room.”

“Sounds like he’d be fun to live with,” Blondie said. “He’s single, right?”

I said, “He was engaged. She told him it’s me or the dogs. Said putting down a dog every two years was just too sad.”

Blondie said, “Aww – he chose the dogs.”

“I have to admire him,” Brat Boy said, “But you can almost see her point.”

“For about a decade I worked with people both addicted and schizophrenic. I loved it, but the sadness got to me after a while. God bless people like Daniel who wade through the sadness to help.”

Today I’ll be grateful for the helpers.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Obviously
“Have you met anybody from your new job?” Blondie asked.

“The guy next to me hung a wooden plaque at the opening of his cubicle,” I said. “It reads ‘Please Knock.’ He won’t talk to you if you don’t.”

“He’s got serious issues,” Brat Boy said. “Does your new boss just ignore it?”

I shrugged. “People ignore the obvious. I knew a woman who couldn’t find a spoon or her lighter.  She ignored her husband’s relapse until the paramedics gave him Narcan in front of the kids. Said she had no idea he was using heroin again.”

"Before she knew he'd relapsed, how did she explain the missing spoons?" Brat Boy asked.

"She found a burnt spoon, and he told her he'd been eating soup. The soup got cold. He was too lazy to get up and reheat it, so he was warming it with the lighter a spoonful at a time. Pondering that explanation distracted her from the missing spoons."



Today I won’t ignore the obvious.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, March 12, 2018


Downtime
“Wait,” Brat Boy said, “They have to give up a weekend, to listen to you talk about burnout? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”

“That’s what I thought,” I said. “But my friend Ryan the corporate trainer said weekend retreats are common.”

Blondie said, “That’s crazy. You need a break from work, not a weekend about work.”

“I agree,” I said. “You need a break from most challenging things in life.  Yesterday I read a couple of articles on addiction and brain chemistry for work. It took me a long time to get through them.    Do you know what I did after that?”

“Forgot everything you read?” Brat Boy asked.

“Fell asleep with your laptop open,” Blondie suggested.

“You’re both grounded,” I said. “I watched some funny animal videos.  I needed the downtime.”

Today I will allow myself some downtime.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Not Waiting
“When’s your first training?” my daughter Blondie asked me. I’d retired a month earlier to focus on writing and discovered working from home wasn’t all I thought it would be.

“I’m doing a weekend on burnout in a month,” I said.

“So why’d you go back to working for someone now?” Brat Boy asked. “I thought you’d stick it out a little longer, plow through the tough times to get to the good.”

“There’s a difference between getting through tough times and being miserable,” I said. “I waited until I was miserable to stop drinking.  Just prolonged the suffering. I wasn’t going to wait until I hated working from home to go back to work.”

Today I won’t wait until I’m miserable to make changes.

Burnout Training ©2018 by Ken Montrose

Burnout Training is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Free to Start a New Chapter
Brat Boy and Blondie both came home for Sunday brunch. Sitting with my family, I was a little sad for all the people I knew still fighting their addictions. Drinking my coffee, surrounded by family, I didn’t have to scam someone’s pills, borrow money I’d never repay, sneak into work because my frazzled brain needed seven days to do five days’ worth of work, apologize for the night before, hope I didn’t get sick, sell my body to pay for it, steal, lie, deceive, wonder where I was and who I was with, hope I hadn’t gotten Hep C or HIV, find my car, sell drugs, etc.  Because I was drug-free, I got to enjoy my morning and make an announcement instead.

“I’m starting a new chapter,” I said. “I’m going back to work. I’m going to train part-time for a company that does corporate motivational weekends.”

Today I can turn the page or start a new chapter in my life.

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Just for the Moment
MaryJo joined us. Rudy asked her how things were going with the new boyfriend.

“He’s not my boyfriend yet. First I want complete access to his medical records, including family history of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.” I wasn’t sure she was joking.

“You’ve lost your mind,” I said.

“I need to be certain he’ll be around if we get serious. I can’t have him die on me like my husband did.” Her laugh seemed nervous and hollow.

“You like him?” I asked. “Are you happy with him at this very moment?”

She got my point. Only the moment is certain. “I do. I’m certain of that right now. I just got a text from him. Made me smile, that’s for certain.”

“Did it make you blush?” Rudy asked. MaryJo kicked him.

Today I’ll be grateful for whatever happiness the moment brings.   

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Possibilities
“So what are you going to do now? I asked Rudy as I sat down, cradling my coffee in both hands. 

“Will you start your own dealership?” He looked at me like I had asked if he planned to sell a kidney.

“Oh hell no!” he said. “I hate the car business. I only went into it because my dad made me. It never occurred to me that I had a choice.  You know what opened my eyes, just a little?”

“Couldn’t guess,” I said.

“Getting sober. He was dead set against me going to AA. I went anyway, don’t know how I found the strength. I started to see I had choices.  I will never let anybody limit my possibilities again.”

Today I will consider the possibilities.

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, March 5, 2018


Tuesday, March 16th, 2020

For Example
We were sitting in the stands for the semi-final round of the volleyball playoffs. Brat Boy’s team was playing the team with kid with the gold head band, bad haircut, and worse attitude. Gold head band’s team lost. The players lined up to shake hands, but he walked to his bench and sat down, glaring at his teammates.

“Talk about a sore loser,” I said, louder than I intended. Because God has a sense of humor, the people sitting behind us were gold headband’s parents. And of course, they heard me.

“Well,” his mother said spitting out the word and a few drops of saliva, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a LOSER!” Her husband cursed, and called me a loser.

I could have pointed out that their kid’s team had just lost. I could have cursed them. Instead, I pointed to Brat Boy. After shaking hands, he was talking to the opposing players. “Show me a gracious winner, and I’ll show you a winner,” I said. They stomped off.

“Where have I seen that before?” I asked my wife, remembering how gold head band had stomped off after the first match with Brat Boy.

“Kids learn by example,” Dr. Deb said. “Their kid’s just like them.”

Today I will try to set a good example.

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Monday, March 16th, 2020

Gratitude
The anger swept over me like a wave of broken glass. “How the (*&$#@ am I supposed to find any gratitude in this?” I yelled. I sat for a long time before I knew. “All the friends and family who aren’t addicted, strange and wonderful people that they are.”

There were so many people in my life I’d never have to worry about OD’ing. Quiet people, thoughtful people, people who held strong opinions based solely on emotion. People of faith, atheists, agnostics, and people who worshiped chocolate and coffee. Friends whose sometimes annoying peculiarities put the ‘irk’ in ‘quirk.’ Family, by blood, marriage, and the closeness that comes from long friendships.

Most of them would never touch a drug, and for that I was grateful.

Today I will be grateful for all my friends and family who aren’t addicted.

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Monday, March 16th, 2020

The Letter
“I almost forgot,” Jill said, handing me an envelope with my name on it. “I found this in his desk. It was sealed.  Do me a favor. Don’t tell me what it says.  I couldn’t stand being angrier with him than I already am.”

I opened it when I got home. ‘If you’re reading this, I probably OD’d. Truth is I knew this was how it would end. I ran into my old dealer. He’d relapsed after ten years clean when his wife died. We cried together and shooting up with him seemed like the most natural thing ever.

‘Before you judge me, put yourself in my shoes. What was I supposed to do when I knew I was hooked again? Go through detox? Get my 24 hour coin after all those years clean? Tell my wife and kid that just as my career was taking off I’d pissed it all away? I was hurting and humiliated. I couldn’t stand feeling that way again after so many years.

‘Irony of ironies, my dealer OD’d, now I’m scrounging for whatever I can get until I find a new supply. I will, and it will kill me.  I bought some life insurance so my family will be taken care of. I won’t have to feel this way. Everyone wins.’

I tore up the letter. I thought of all the people who go through chemo, knowing they’re going to feel terrible now, but better later.  I thought of Phil, facing yet another painful operation and rehab, hoping it would ease some his pain down the road.

Staring at the shredded paper, I said, “You can’t make decisions about your future based just on how you feel now.”

Today I won’t make decisions about what I’ll do in the future based on how I feel now.

2020 Vision ©2017 & 2018 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/