Disclaimer: I don’t usually post such a personal peek into my life. Yet, a big portion of the work I do with women over 50 and a big chunk of the book I’m nearly done with focuses on stress. The impossibility of separating mind, body, and emotions from our total health package makes this what feels like a must-share. The power of stress, and of humor to arm yourself against it are woven within.
There I was ready to make a change. One foot in, one foot out the door. I just knew if I spent my flexible 80-hour work-week focused on my business instead of someone else’s I could make a difference. I was stuck.
I definitely wanted to make a bigger difference. I wanted to be anything but average taking a paycheck without really changing things. I wanted the possibility we could change the world. I didn’t feel surrounded by people who wanted the same thing. Something had to change for them to grow more as much as for me to grow more. So I did it. I thought about it seriously for six weeks, chickened out at lunch on the 15th but finally gave my notice on the 16th of January, 2014.
I had spent those six weeks trying to defy the gravity of a step-dad who had worked loyally for the same company for over 40 years, and retired safe, secure and stable. The weight of a son about to graduate high school with tuition bills starting in eight months. And the reluctance of leaving a job (insurance, benefits, and flexibility) that was everything I’d prepared myself for 25 years. I loved my position. I wasn’t leaving because I didn’t love getting up every day to do my job. I just felt compelled to give more.
I did it. I looked at the shock on my bosses’ face, told him again- surprised myself that he hadn’t noticed anything at all pointing in this direction – and handed him the official letter.
I knew the odds: three-to-six years to get the baby on its feet. I told myself if it came to it I would put my house up for sale. Careful what you wish for they say. In tears while other people were putting up Christmas decorations, at the request of my realtor I was taking precious memories off walls I loved. Fear crept into conversations about Christmas gifts or clothes my son “needed” while home on break. That wasn’t a place I was familiar with or that I liked.
My love relationship deteriorated. The house wasn’t sold. My funds were dwindling. The last thing a new business should do is stop marketing and advertising. I left my ex-husband(already my ex for 13 years), a friend, and realtor in charge of my house. With all the belongings that would fit into my car and an Old English Sheep dog I drove two states away to start over in a bedroom at my niece’s house. My 4200 square ft. house was empty except for cardboard boxes of 20+ years of stuff sitting in the middle of each room.
That drive was only 10 hours 18 months ago. The journey here has been much longer, but worth the trip. I sometimes ask, are we there yet? and I’m comfortable that the answer is no.
1. Being scared because you haven’t got enough money cripples you. You can’t be creative. You can’t love fully. You can’t experience joy. It’s always there.
2. Pawning jewelry to pay for ads and marketing expenses changes how you think about yourself. Stuff suddenly doesn’t matter when you realize you can get by with nothing but a trunk full of belongings for months. The sentimental value of anything does matter.
3. When a psychologist forgets to ask if you’re suicidal until the second appointment and that’s funny you’ve reached a whole different place in life.
4. Forgiveness is the thing that separates people who are truly happy from the rest. If you’re going to have memory losses, have them about your grudges.
5. Your heart really can physically ache for someone. An I love you text from an adult child can make everything OK.
6. Stress manifests itself in ways beyond our comprehension. Healing stress far more than nutrition, rest and exercise. There is absolutely no separation of mind, body, and spirit: of this I’m sure.
I have a small bone problem in one ankle. It’s confirmed on MRIs. It hadn’t bothered me for four years. I had sudden swelling and tenderness in that same ankle as race day for an Ironman approached. I’d signed up for the Ironman as a physical challenge to make me mentally and emotionally stronger. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to the sudden injury aside from the fact I’d just had the most stressful 18 months of my life, featuring six top-ranked major life-stressors. Together the long-term emotional and acute physical training stress were a load I couldn’t handle. No more super woman.
Oddly, though I did the Ironman – walking most of the marathon to spare my ankle of pounding (as if exercise for 17 hours is sparing any body part of anything). Four days later, the Ironman a memory, the swelling, tenderness and pain vanished. I was running short recovery runs with none of the signs or symptoms I’d had the week before. I haven’t had a problem with it this year as I prepare to do the Ironman again. My training isn’t better. My nutrition isn’t better. My emotional state is better.
7. When you can’t see anything that made you want to leave in the first place you can see everything.
8. There are no rules about exes. They are always going to be people who saw you at your best and at your worst and loved you anyway. If you’re not good friends with your ex you potentially didn’t like yourself very well in that relationship. Work on that and you’ll get two friends back.
9. When someone suggests medication or therapy for a healthy emotional response to a situation, run. Likewise, when someone tells you to be realistic.
10. Your environment is everything. It will determine how you recover from emotional turbulence, what you believe is possible, and your health. If you want to age well go where people use rocking chairs for kindling.
11. When your heart is closed its closed to everything. When it’s open, possibilities are everywhere.
12. Chaos does precede the biggest and the best changes that you may be too scared to take without that call to action. Don’t settle for less to avoid the messes. Go ahead and make a mess of things. You’ll figure it and a lot more out.