When Your Job becomes a J-O-B

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When you start referring to your job as a J-O-B, I think the universe may be trying to tell you something.

I’m at a pivot point in my professional life right now. The business I ran with my husband for the last ten years is winding down since he went back to the corporate world in December. Winding down at least in the sense of what it used to be, not necessarily what it could be in the future. Now that it is only mine, I have a more or less clean slate to rebuild it to what I would like and need it to be.

But I’m still working that out in my mind, so I do feel like I’m in some kind of entrepreneurial limbo. Read the rest of this entry

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On Headaches and Internalizing

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Last week and even a bit into this week I’ve been suffering with a headache across the top of the left side of my head. This is pretty unusual for me. A few of the first mornings I woke up with a sharp pain which fluctuated to a dull ache. One morning I had an extreme sensation of lightheadedness as well. So much so that I wasn’t comfortable driving my daughter to Pre-K – thankfully my dad was able to bring her. She loves school so much she was about to have a temper tantrum if she would have to stay home.

I had a sense all along that the headache was related to stress. But why now? At a time when at last I feel that things have started to settle down in my life. When I’ve finally allowed myself this simple, secret pleasure of expressing myself on this new blog. And when demands of my business have evened out (knocking wood not to jinx it!) so that I can start to escape the dangerous tunnel vision and see more fully around me.

How do I know this is most likely stress-related, with a slight portion of maybe needing a new pillow? Well, as it turns out, I think it’s mostly related to the chronic tension I’ve developed in my neck and shoulders, like most of the population in our 21st century computer-working world. I’m extremely lucky to have a stepmom who is a massage therapist to help ease my knotted up issues when they crop up. And she has decided to push me the extra step to greater self-care – scheduling 3 sessions in advance for me so I am forced to honor the calendar.

But moreso than the pressure caused by non-ergonomic work space, I truly believe that this is a case of internalized stress. Our bodies and minds are connected. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. And years of living with a constant level of day-to-day stress interspersed with periods of extreme stress and emotional events cannot be erased with one week of improved clarity.

In fact, I hold the theory that just when we open the door a crack to putting our walls down and relaxing a bit, our bodies sense it. All of a sudden it’s okay. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to not be the strong one holding up the world. It’s okay to break down just a little.

Hasn’t it ever happened to you that you finally get that vacation time and you come down with a cold? It’s the weekend and you throw out your back for no apparent reason?

I think it may be our body’s way of reminding us that it’s been working overtime too. Your brain needs a break, and maybe it’s finally getting one. But your body’s been doing the heavy lifting support work all along. It needs a break too. Body and mind are one – carrying and protecting your soul.

So yes, I understand. I am not particularly thrilled with it, but I understand. It all works together to remind me once again that I, and all of us, need to take better care of ourselves – in ALL ways. And it’s a reminder too that all the stress and damage of the last few years will probably not be resolved in a week. Just as my stepmom reminds me that my hopelessly knotted muscles took years to get this way and will require ongoing time, ongoing self-care, to release.

Awareness may be the first step. Listening the second. So I will listen to my body and try to care for it better. And I will listen to my soul and continue writing and all the other things I am forging forward with on this path. I hope you will take a moment to listen too. You are worth it.

My Time Conspiracy

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One morning a few months ago, my four-year-old greeted her Pre-K teacher with “It’s a miracle!”

So what was this miracle? We had managed to arrive ON TIME to her school.

It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for your time management skills when your preschooler thinks it takes the hand of God to not be late to school.

I admit it, I’m not the best at being on time for things. Sometimes I think time conspires against me. I swear there have been times when victory is at hand and then out of nowhere the clock skips ahead like 10 minutes. I’ve never been what you would call “punctual.” I’ve managed to squeak by with close enough more times than I can count, especially when it’s a work appointment, meeting, or even (gasp!) speaking engagement. Yes, when I am the speaker.

Now I know my habit of lateness breaks every rule and recommendation for leading a professional life. I’ve spent far too many minutes of my life apologizing gently for my tardiness. I wouldn’t say “profusely,” because that then would draw even more attention to the minutes ticked away on the clock. It really would be easier to just be on time – or even early! Those few days that I do manage to make it to something early, I feel convinced that I must have forgotten something along the way. It feels so… well, wrong.

I’m starting to wonder though if being late has just been a symptom – a bold indicator that there was something else out of whack in my life. An underlying lack of balance that just manifested in the clock jumping ahead to make me late. This week we’ve made it to Pre-K earlier than we have for months. And today we were there exactly on time. This after weeks and weeks of that inner clock of mine being convinced class started at 9, not 8:45 like it did for everyone else.

I think it must be more than just coincidence that this phenomenon of actually being on time seems to be starting up the same week that my huge stress levels are starting to even out after years of constancy, and the last few months of even more amped up, concentrated stress levels. Projects are wrapping up and I’ve been clearing my plate for a fresh start. I’m allowing myself the time and space to begin this blog, to write, giving outlet to the chatter in my mind. And I actually cleaned my office so I can reclaim my desk instead of being a nomad, carrying my work station from dining room to couch to kitchen.

This week, my daughter is picking out her clothes, getting dressed, and eating breakfast – actually leaving enough time to brush her teeth. A week ago I was urging her just to swish really good with some water before rushing out the door, handing her a breath mint from the front seat in the car. (Hello dentists out there: I’m not proud of this but I tell it like it is.)

I’m pretty sure I’ll still be late for lots of things – it seems to be in my nature – but I can’t help but feel like I’ve managed to finally step into some kind of “flow” as the gurus always say. I’m more than ready for it.

Starting Over

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Confession #1: This is not the first time I’ve started a “personal” blog.

The last few years for me have been a bumpy journey of sorts – climbing so high I felt my head might just poke through the clouds to say hello to God. Plunging so low I wasn’t sure I’d be able to learn to walk again. This “journey” isn’t over. I suppose none of our journeys ever are. But I’m starting to see a little clarity through it all. And trying to stop calling it a “journey”… omg is that new age, self help talk or what?

First, I’ve decided to embrace what’s been a passion since I was a girl. My love of writing. I’ve put pen to paper (or more often finger to keyboard) almost every day as part of my work in marketing, and loved those tasks related to it. But all too often this creative tendency of mine, the desire to set words to feelings and thoughts, has been pushed aside. Who has time? What in the world would I write? Why would anyone care what I had to say?

I’ve followed a few bloggers (dare I say it? *MOM* bloggers.) over the last year or so. What was their secret? How did they touch so many people? You know what I think their secret is? Their top security clearance requiring secret? Read the rest of this entry