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Old 06-09-2010, 06:06 PM   #1
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What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

I have ADHD. As one that suffers from the often infuriating symptoms of ADHD, I have always measured my level of functioning and achievement against a yardstick called 'normal.' I've always striven to be 'normal,' and envied 'normal' for its apparent ease of getting things done.

Recently, I have had the pleasure of an exceptionally positive response to my latest medication regime. While I still show many of the symptoms of ADHD daily, the largest target areas for me, impulsivity and ability to maintain focus while reading have vanished. I don't mean improved, I mean disappeared. Of course I still have impulses to do those things that have ruined my life, but the debate as to whether to act is now entirely one-sided on the higher brain side. My utter inability to consider the big picture is gone. I'm doing virtually everything right on a daily basis. I do still crash to some degree in the evenings, but it's more on the trouble activating tasks side, rather than the uncontrolled impulsivity side.

That's not to say I haven't had successes in the past, but it was always a daily battle. I had to fight with myself, tooth and nail, to either do the right thing or avoid the wrong thing. This time, it's easy. So easy in fact, that the little things I've struggled so mightily with all my life no longer present a challenge. In the first couple of weeks that things became easy, I often said "if life is this easy for normal people, I'm going to be angry!" The thought that someone for whom life is this easy would condescendingly tell me I'm just not trying hard enough was infuriating to me.

Recently though, I've begun to wonder, have things become too easy? If life were this easy for the 'normal' people, why would anyone ever gain weight, or fail to exercise, or eat junk? If life were this easy for 'normal,' then the standards would be even higher than they are now. I've been wanting to sit down with some 'normal' people to ask them about how they fight temptation, what the process is, because I need to know how things go for 'normal.'

I'm so confused by my success now that I'm not sure where to go. Have I gone too far the other way? Have I been 'enhanced' to a point that's beyond 'normal?' Have I been forced to form such strong impulse control thanks to my skimpy pool of neurotransmitters that once I have the neurotransmitters available to carry the messages, things are no longer challenging? Are my meds too high, am I risking neural fatigue, or worse, neural death due to overstimulation? Can I remain this way for the rest of my life, or do I need to use this time to feverishly learn all I can, before I revert to being a zombie?

I love the new me! My biggest fear now is tolerance. My doses are so high, I'm not sure there's anywhere to go if I develop tolerance. I don't want to go back to what I was. I feel now that I can learn what I need to learn to function at a 'normal' level. I finally, after 2 years, made it through the Lazy, Crazy book, and I'm reading, exercising and eating right every day. I'm full of questions for my psychologist and my psychiatrist, I want to work every day at moving further, I'm doing so well, yet I have the presence of mind to be patient and take things slow (which has never happened).

Anyway, I know I've digressed a long way from my original question. Does anyone have a clue what 'normal' is? Does 'normal' exist at all? If there is a 'normal,' what is it? Anyone?

 
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:28 PM   #2
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thu,

Over stimulation is marked by inability to sleep and eat on schedule. If you are sleeping at night and eat regularly during the day, you are not overstimulated.

What is normal capacity for focus and attention? A score of 100 on the TOVA test. Like an IQ test, most people fall within a tight cluster around 100 or the 50 percentile.

Normal to me: The ability to focus, control and organize my thoughts. Externally it shows as: 1) The ability to set realistic goals and stick to them without becoming obsessive. Long term goals usually take years of consistent hard work. 2) Good judgment. 3) Balanced use of my time.

Don't worry about developing tolerance. After 6 years I'm showing no signs of tolerance, if anything, less need for medication.

Don't worry. Be happy. And CONGRATULATIONS.

Go for it. You can do it now.

Bob

 
Old 06-09-2010, 08:41 PM   #3
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

I guess I'm in good shape then, Bob, because my routine is set in stone (ok, bedtime varies by up to an hour, but waking and eating happen right on schedule every day). Thank you for the reply. I'm more excited and hopeful than I've been in a long time, but I do have my anxieties. We'll see how things progress.

 
Old 06-09-2010, 08:55 PM   #4
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Quote:
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Does anyone have a clue what 'normal' is? Does 'normal' exist at all? If there is a 'normal,' what is it? Anyone?
Thunor,

I'm glad you have found a med that works for you!

As for what "normal" is, it's a relative term. That means, it depends. It depends on what you're comparing to what, and who's doing the comparison.

The western world is run by people who don't have ADD. They determine the definition of "normal", of "success", in the greater world in which we live. They decide that "normal" is being able to set a goal, figure out how to achieve this goal, and carry out the steps to achieve this goal. Schools, businesses, governments, social interactions, and lots of other things are run with this assumption. If you behave according to this definition of "normal", you have a good chance of being "successful".

We ADDers lack neurotransmitters (or have too much, or can't transport them in our brains efficiently, or can't access them, or whatever -- I still have difficulty visualizing what is or is not going on in our ADD brains!). This is "normal" for us. It is not "normal" for those who don't have ADD.

If we define ourselves by whatever the movers and shakers in the world decide is "normal" (why do I keep hearing the word "successful" echoing in my ears???), then we are not "normal" (not "successful"), and we feel inadequate. If we can redefine the context, then we can find a more positive way of viewing ourselves.

Um, I'm blathering and losing the train of thought (it's early morning here, I've been up for a couple of hours with a sick cat, I haven't had my breakfast, tea, or meds yet, and I'm blathering).

Let's just say that I prefer the term "eccentric".

--Rheanna

 
Old 06-10-2010, 07:34 AM   #5
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thu,

Watch for load and stress points. All systems have limits. You are finding your current load "easy." Attention will always be our weakest link. Before adding load, (more education, job promotion, relationships, etc.) think it through and add slowly. If life unexpectedly dumps a tri-axle load on you (health, family, loss of employment, problems), be prepared to temporarily unload options. Feeling overwhelmed, loss of control, and that excessive stress response you so precisely defined are the signs of mental fatigue failure along the concentration/attention wing. Bail out well before impact.

Rheanna,

So good to hear from you. Western society does not allow us to embrace "eccentricity". The word or its synonyms are rarely found on resumes. With few exceptions, the quality does not help us sell our skills or goods. Sadly, money talks, shouts, in western society. Canadians and Americans are all cut from the same UK/western European clothe or are assimilated (like Borg) from other cultures. "[Eccentricity] is futile." Are you a Trekkie?

Bob

Last edited by addprogrammer; 06-10-2010 at 07:36 AM. Reason: Spelling

 
Old 06-10-2010, 08:30 PM   #6
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rheanna View Post
As for what "normal" is, it's a relative term. That means, it depends. It depends on what you're comparing to what, and who's doing the comparison.
I suppose this is the point. It's ironic that all this time I've been holding myself up against 'normal' when 'normal' is largely meaningless. Certainly, in specific circumstances, the peak of a bell curve can be regarded as 'normal,' but there are so many different aspects to measure in a personality, it's impossible to really pin 'normal' down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addprogrammer View Post
Before adding load, (more education, job promotion, relationships, etc.) think it through and add slowly.
I think that will be the most difficult part for me. I'm determined to take things slowly, yet that old ADHD impatience is always with me, and I find myself wanting to get moving, to move forward on building my life. The challenge, of course, will be to do this in a constructive manner, and only after I've learned the organizational and other skills required to actually succeed.

Thank you both for responding, it makes one feel good to know he isn't alone in the world.

 
Old 06-15-2010, 07:57 PM   #7
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thunor,

I'm addressing Rheanna's reply inline with your intended purpose for this thread. Her input finally broke through my thick skull with a positive effect on my outlook.

Rheanna,

You have been bothering me, in a most positive way, since your post to the effect (or how I preceived it) to "embrace our weirdness."

Implusively I shot it down with my ADHD ICBM. Can you imagine an ICBM being guided by ADHD system? Talk about "friendly fire."

The consequences of excessive, out-of-bounds "implusivity" are not good at all. How can our "weirdness" possibly be embraced? It's so destructive.

That last "D" in ADHD means "Disorder." This case, it means that our capacity for attention is so low, that 2 or more of life's important roles (job, family, school, parenting, financial, etc.) are seriously impaired. We lose jobs, mates, kids, money, and achieve a lower education grade.

Drag and drop the foregoing into the "not good at all," "weird," and "unembraceable" file.

Giving this matter the processing time it deserves has proved to me that the above reasons do not support my implusive "no weird embracing" position.

Let me add those all important details.

Unconditionally we'd better embrace our weirdness because "weird" is what we are. My ADHD symptoms are currently nicely under control. But I'm still as ADHD as I was 10,20, ... 50 years ago.

The reasonable degree of management I've achieved has made me more compatible to "western society." A large part of me remains incompatible. For example, I never could and never will be able to work for an organization or an individual. Everything employers do is intolerably bass ackwards. I must be at the top of the heap even if it means a very small heap. I can be and have been productive in environments I create. Why would I want to I beat my irregular "weird" shape into the hum drum square "western society" hole?

"You must be college educated" is another "western society" norm that is incompatible with my brain and my experience. I know a few multi-millionaires, a quick count is 5. Of the five, only one has college degrees, a guy I once worked for. His degrees are in engineering. Engineers make good money but not multi-million good. His business and organization skills made the millions. A sizeble chunk of those millions came when he sold his 600 employee engineering firm.

The remaining four made their millions in exactly the same way as my former employer. They are of the entreprenueral type. They went from zero to multi-million dollar operations in ten to twenty years. None of the four are college educated. None of my 5 millionaires are in the same line of business. Demand is their common thread - a market hungry for their products and services. They saw the demand and created their businesses to supply it.

One guy built his multi-faceted business from a simple landscaping operation. Just a few weeks back, he decided he needed a new toy. He bought himself his second helicopter.

I personally do not know any professional, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, college degree'd person that has a net worth close to my helicopter friend's. That is not to say college degrees have no value. Their college degrees enable them earn a few hundred thousand a year - valuable in my book. A college degree becomes valuable if it gives you the skills to do a job that is in demand.

A college degree has no value for me given my circumstances. The only employer that gives me the environment I need and demands the skills I possess, doesn't require that I have a college degree. Historically he has consistently paid me well. Why would I ever want to work for someone else? In this case, "failure to embrace my weirdness" doesn't cover it entirely.

I now consider "embracing who we are" as an important part in the overall mental attitude I needed to move up to the next wrong of the ADHD symptom control success ladder.

I must put in print much more to burn in brain "why" "embracing what we are" is so important to me. The short answer: Recently I've made some very good decisions. My failure to embrace me has caused me to doubt myself.

The long answer at another time when I have more time.

Thu, think about "demand" when working out your plans for the future as well as our ADHD factor.

Bob

 
Old 06-15-2010, 09:59 PM   #8
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

I've always found "normal" to be rather dull and boring. I enjoy laughing and doing stupid things and being pregnant again (#4), and totally off meds, I embrace my ADD to the fullest!

That's the thing with us ADD peeps. We have an excuse for the crazy and stupid things we do. Of course, my crazy and stupid things only go as far as doing a cannon ball into our apartment pool.... my kids think that's hysterical, but the "normal" grown ups around seem to disapprove.... they don't want to get their hair wet.... plus watching a grown woman, who is pregnant, do a cannon ball, is probably weirdly disturbing.... OR like when we're in the toy aisle in Target or Walmart, I'll start fighting with the dinosaur toys (the big ones that growl obnoxiously loud), and I'll pretend the dinosaur is eating me, and I suppose I get loud about it..... OR like when we're at the mall and my kids and I play secret agents and hide from my husband in the clothes and around corners.... I mean, how often do you see a fairly attractive and successful looking grown woman crouching on the floor, peeking around a corner, ducking behind merchandise and such, hiding from her husband??? Normal??? I think not!

SOOOO my point is, normal is boring. Quit trying to measure your success by what other people do. Figure out who YOU are and love YOU.

 
Old 06-16-2010, 05:53 PM   #9
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thank you guys again for your replies.

Mari,

Congrats on #4! My mom had 4 and was the most amazing woman I ever had the honour of knowing. She never had the benefit of knowing that ADHD existed, yet raised me with patience and love. Near the end she confided with me that she got to the point that she didn't have a clue how to deal with us (myself and my brother were very angry ADHD teens), yet we always had her love and support. Her time was far too short, but she touched so many lives I was humbled by the turnout at the funeral.

Thank you for your advice about avoiding normal. It sounds like you've really embraced your uniqueness and have a happy family. To me that's really the important thing. My fiancee (also has four!) has always had ADHD and so do all of her kids, but she's done so well with raising them that they're the most self assured and confident kids I know. It seems that women that understand their own ADHD and are comfortable with it make super moms for ADHD kids.

Alas, I'm still at the beginning of my journey. I have a lot of baggage (both mental and physical) to deal with, but I now feel that I can start to work through it all. With great advice from my friends here, I know I'll get there in time.

Bob,

I've given up my hopes and dreams of being super rich, corporate culture simply doesn't work for me. I've never met a corporation that I didn't eventually find abhorrent. I'm very interested in the rehabilitation side of corrections, and I believe that is where I will eventually end up. I've always felt sort of a bizarre kinship with many of those that reside in our prisons; I think I've always known that had my impulsiveness not been directed toward self-abuse, I certainly had the potential to be in that situation myself.

Besides, I'm a strong believer in second chances and rehabilitation, after all, I hope to be a shining example of how one can change once the cause of his issues is found.

 
Old 06-17-2010, 06:23 AM   #10
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Quote:
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A. I'm very interested in the rehabilitation side of corrections, and I believe that is where I will eventually end up.

B. I've always felt sort of a bizarre kinship with many of those that reside in our prisons; I think I've always known that had my impulsiveness not been directed toward self-abuse, I certainly had the potential to be in that situation myself.
A friend of our family does just that. Truant officer was his first job out of college. He now runs around eastern PA counseling families with problem children. Yep, many of those problem children are as ADHD as we. Friend said "me." I interpolated "me" into "we." Because I had the "potential" too. Twice the staties (same as RCMP) pulled me over, searched me and my buggy VW van without finding my stash. One time I had no stash. The other time, I stuck it down my draws. I know for an absolute fact, though my evidence is circumstantial, the statie that searched me was not gay.

My friend has a 4 year bachelor's in criminal [somthing]. I'll tell you, Thu, he best quickly get himself a Masters now that he's married.

I'll you another thing. I am truly stupid. You told me a while back about your interest and I told you to reconsider becoming a copper (same as RCMP). My first cousin is a copper in NJ. No degree needed. He is a powerful man, can shoot strait and surprised no one when he graduated with flying colors from the ~six month course at the Police Academy.

I get it now. Police catch criminals, your type/friend's type change criminals into not-criminals. Expressed !Criminals in C. ! = not. Regardless of how easy the abstraction is in C, the two of you best skip Masters and go straight to Doctorials or however it's spelled.

Thank you for not telling everyone how stupid I am/was at the time. You let it slide. Good boy, you are.

To the point I wanted to make a few hundred words back: My friend got his first job, Truant Officer, before the ink on his diploma dried. I can't imagine a greater demand than for people with the skills you want to acquire.

I wanted to tell what I got cooking in my job pot and will, later. I suspect we both need plans that show how we intend to meet the challenges.

Me: How to capitalize the new biz.
You: How to pay the college bill.

Me: How to build a new business and have a few bucks for beans and water for the next couple years.
You: How to attend University and have a few bucks for beans and water for the next couple years.

Capitalizing a business or paying for education and the loss of income from diverting substantial blocks of time required to build a business or acquire an education is a formidable challenge without Mom and Pop picking up the tabs.

Later,
Bob

 
Old 06-20-2010, 12:39 AM   #11
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Another way to look at this question is to point out that all of us, whether ADDers or not, have strong traits (things that come easy to us) and weak traits (things that are very difficult for us) and middling traits (the things that we can learn to do if we have to or want to). Thus, theoretically, if we are in the right environment, we can utilize our talents and delegate the difficult things to others. Uh, yeah, I realize that this is pollyanna new-age poppycock speaking here, but wipe those tears of laughter from your eyes and bear with me.

Marisuela and Bob recognise that they have wild and crazy senses of humor. I think that as a species (ADDers!!!) we tend to look at the world through skewed lenses, and we often have great (in our own eyes!!!) senses of humor (man that looks funny trying to make it grammatical). Thus, with a little help from a manager to book us dates and remind us of our commitments, we might make good stand-up comedians. Or at least the life of the party.

My claim to fame is that I see patterns -- literally visual or figurative (I'm no good with auditory stuff like music unless I have a music score in front of me because I can't see it). Thus I am really good with seeing things that don't fit the pattern. But I am lousy at setting up the structure which defines those patterns. My most successful jobs have been ones where I work on projects which in some fashion or another involve patterns defined by someone else. Such as: testing software (oooh! there's a bug -- it doesn't fit the pattern!), or even (my absolute favorite of all time but it doesn't exist anymore as a real job because computers have taken it over) drawing integrated circuits. When I draw or paint ("art" as opposed to integrated circuits now), I prefer to do it from photos because I freak out at the thought of trying to create something from nothing -- my mind is a chaotic blank and I just cannot create patterns when there is no structure already created in which I can work. If I've got a photo from which to start, I can make changes to the canvas in color, positioning, background, etc. I can be creative within an already existing structure.

People who don't have ADD and appear to be successful (the "normies") also have strong points and weak points. They have managed to get through school without calling attention to their weak points, so they are simply guided to appropriate academic tracks such as athletics or math or creative writing or whatever. We ADDers have so much difficulty with school that our weak points are constantly pointed out to us and to everyone around us, and we wind up thinking that we can't do anything and it only increases the chaos and confusion in our brains. We have had our weaknesses blown up to such large proportions that we often don't even know that we also have strong points.

Anyway, we all have strong points. We may need meds to help us to make use of them, but the meds don't create our talents. The meds only allow our brains to make use of our talents. Marisuela is being a great mom and showing her kids that they are fun-loving people instead of failures who can't shut up and be serious. She's using her sense of humor as a talent, not a liability. I admire that.

--Rheanna

Last edited by rheanna; 06-20-2010 at 12:41 AM. Reason: grammar

 
Old 06-21-2010, 08:56 AM   #12
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Rheanna,

Right on target.

C++ programmers hold a unique niche. We are the type most likely to be used as subcontractors by medium sized corporations. I worked exclusively on programs that served other programs. My programs provided system services. It made no difference whether the master program was for accounting or engineering. One of my best was a backup that backed up when it got the signal from the master program.

Bad things happened to me that put me out of business for about 2 years. Since then I've been struggling to make a come back. Early this year I got "laid off" because the boss's company lost the contract to someone else.

I wanted out anyway because it became too stressful. What was once fun, wasn't fun anymore. But where can I work where I will make more than poverty money. I have no college education. I'm crazy and can't work for anyone. What am I to do? Do what I am good at, that's what. Find a demand that I can fill and create a business to fill it.

I knew where the demand was 2 years ago. It has grown since then. I live over a huge chunk of shale called Marcellous shale. Just dig a hole about 5 to 7 thousand feet deep and you'll hit it. It is full of methane - natural gas. It is close to market. And now the technology exists to cost effectively dig that deep and let it out. And safe too. Same horizontal method BP uses in the Gulf.

Gas and oil companies are furiously doing just that all around here. Maybe they'll dig me a hole and I'll get rich quick. Probably not, not a good enough possibility at any rate.

Well now, the influx has positively created multiple demands that remain unfilled. Where is the one I can fill? By chance I worked with a gas pipe representative whose job was to lease right-of-ways. His title is ROW Agent. We had a good working relationship. During that brief stint, he mentioned how desperate he is for land clearing services. I said, "really, I've been thinking about getting into that." I didn't mention it has been nearly two seconds now that I've been thinking along those lines. Right on the spot, he said, "Call me when you are ready. It is a done deal."

Then I sat down and thought about it. How much do a few triaxle dump trucks, a few dozers, and a few trunk grinders and other miscellany cost? The ROW is only 60 feet wide and only MILES long. That is a lot of stuff to pluck and move elsewhere. Oh, poop, another lost gig. Then I saw the demand I could fill. The void left by the big boys sucked up by the big ROW jobs.

I'm in the land clearing business. My investment is not small but it is doable by buying used equipment and if necessary restoring it. I got one piece nearly done and as soon as I get done playing here it will be done. I rigged a winch on a trailer so the trailer can be loaded with logs without the use of a skidder. Winching is not a fast as skidders that pick up the logs. But $1000 bought me the same services as $30,000 for a used skidder.

I knew this was NOT going to be easy. I knew it was going to be lots of work with little dough to show for it now. The dough will come later. I knew I would have problems with used equipment. Didn't matter. It is taking me longer and is costing me more than I figured anyway. No different than software except even longer hours and a lot less money - for now.

I easily forget "for now." So I decided to unleash my old father induced bug that I'm no good, blah, blah, blah. If you ain't educated, you is worthless poop, I think.

I'm over it. You helped again. I promise to never ever let it happen again. Not.

Thunor,

Thanks for starting the thread I should have started. Just what I needed now. Thank you.

Bob

 
Old 06-21-2010, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thu,

Forgive me in advance for tangenting on your thread. I know, "since when has that ever bothered me before." I'm a changed man. I already regret what I'm about to do but it is so funny you'll forgive me.

About 20 miles up the road from a company out of Texas is drilling a well. Quarter mile or so down the road from the well site, a homeowner whose land is not in the well pool (they are NOT going to get rich from that well) had a small problem with their kitchen faucet. It shot out flames rather then poured out water when they turned the valve on.

I think that gets a small chuckle. After all, it be cool if I could get fire water on tap. The wife went livid. You how unreasonable women are.

What I thought was hysterically funny is what the corporate lawyer said: "We are not sure that [JR Ewing Gas and Oil] is responsible. I agree. Just cuz JR is the only company drilling anywhere near, and their derrick is their backyard, doesn't mean JR drilling sprung the leak. That's weak circumstantial evidence not scientific proof.

I will redirect the tangent so it does intersect the circle again. We aren't the only ones that have to put up BS.

Bob

 
Old 06-22-2010, 03:31 AM   #14
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Now Bob, when have I ever disapproved of the odd tangent?

It sounds like you have a great business plan; I don't know a thing about land clearing, but having worked with power companies in the past, I know plenty about utility right of ways. Don't count out those electrical utilities either, their old right of ways need maintenance, because those pesky bushes and trees grow back! As far as the oil shale, hopefully the drilling bit does work and you won't have to strip mine it the way we do the oil sands, not a pretty picture.

I agree, it's too easy to slip into the old 'I'm worthless' bit, I do it far too often myself. If it helps, come here and look back at my old threads and realize that there's at least one person out there that has an immense amount of respect for you, your knowledge and humour about our disorder has done wonders for me over the last two years.

 
Old 06-24-2010, 09:34 AM   #15
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Re: What exactly is 'normal,' anyway?

Thu,

Your words put the drive back into my driven self. Thank you.

<XYZ> has power line ROW maintenance sowed up. <XYZ> is a hugh company that operates nationwide and in Canada. <XYZ> or another similar size company will get the gas pipe ROW's once complete. Local guys are getting the new ROW action because <XYZ> doesn't want to dirty its hands with relatively low paying grunt work. ROW's are exponentially easier to maintain than clear. Clearing ROW's does not pay exponentially more than maintaining them.

I must keep my primary responsibilities in focus. I like cutting down trees. The labor is good for me. It is the only way I can lose weight and keep it off. Nevertheless, my job is primarily marketing and sales. It can't be hire it out. Eventually all the other stuff must be hired out so that I can focus on sales and organization leadership. I don't want to create a self-employed job. I want to create a business I can sell in a few years and retire.

Don't forget. I'm an old fart.

Bob

Last edited by mod-anon; 06-25-2010 at 04:56 AM. Reason: Please do not mention company names.

 
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