I realized this morning that it has been weeks and weeks since I last wrote a blog post. Blogging has become such a way of life for me but, apparently, my life has been getting in the way of my way of life. My life has not slowed down and there certainly has been plenty to write about – I still suffer through my daily struggles of trying to continue my healthy journey, I have the normal ups and downs in my relationships and I glean new insights from my work – every.single.day. Yet, with all that is happening, I have not been able to find the time to slow myself down to catch my breath and check in, even if just for myself.
Several weeks ago I had some travel away from home and was gone for 10 days. It was officially the longest I had ever been away from my husband and kids in one stretch and I knew it would take its toll. I was pretty excited about my travel, though, because it started with a quick weekend away with an old friend and was immediately followed up with an intense week of work with my business partners in the midwest. I knew these days were going to be transformational for me in many ways so I had great anticipation for what my journeys might bring.
My girls’ weekend ended up taking the shape of a bit of a midlife crisis weekend (or, at least, that is what I dubbed it). I got my first tattoo and my first massage (and shame on me for waiting until midlife for the massage!). The tattoo was meaningful in that it symbolized a change in myself that I was extremely proud of and marked a new phase of my life. The massage, aside from being extremely relaxing and therapeutic, also marked some symbolism in my life because it represented a sense of indulgence and release that I had not before permitted myself to experience. Instead of buying myself a convertible or running off to Jamaica with a younger man, I decided to indulge in myself and nurture the parts of me that needed to be tended to. I also tried to stare down the realities that I am probably a bit further than midlife at this point and that, while my best years may still lie ahead, there are likely to be far fewer of them than what had already passed. That is a pretty sobering thought.
When I continued on with my journey to my work meetings, I managed to catapult myself from my midlife crisis focus to building my future. It was a great week of meetings, inspiration, collaboration and a few personal breakthroughs for me that I will forever remember and be grateful for. As I returned home from the 10-day tour of duty, I felt disconnected and disjointed, not sure where I belonged. I love my family and my heart broke every time my 8 year-old son texted me “I love you more than life” and, yet, I felt like a stranger intruding into someone else’s life when I got back. Of course their lives had gone on while I was away. Both my boys looked like they each grew a foot while I was gone and my tween son was that much more bottled up and unwilling to even hug me when I came in the door. He could never admit he missed me. My husband was suffering the pains of having to hold down the household for nearly 2 weeks without the support and assistance of a partner. He was battle weary. I was lost, trying to transition from my friends and work back into my family and responsibilities. I was straddling two different worlds, not sure which one I best belonged in.
It is not uncommon for many of us, particularly parents, to be challenged by the disruption caused by immersing oneself into work and then trying to emerge and return to “normal” life. Those of us who travel a lot for work or who have particularly intense jobs often live in a suspended state where we love everything in our lives but sometimes wish we were at work when we are at home with our families and desperately miss our families when we are away at work. It’s a classic Catch 22 scenario. Layer on top of that the guilt associated with feeling like you are not completely present in either (frankly, in my case, I feel like I am always more present at work and tend to be less present when it comes to my family and, for this, I am not proud). I feel like I spend so much of my time lamenting about what I am not doing that I find it difficult to simply enjoy wherever it is that I am. After all, both sides of my life are very appealing. I love my work and my business partner is my best friend so, when we get to be together working, it is a double pleasure. We have a magical quality to our work and our relationship that makes work feel more like play and who wouldn’t want more of that. On the other hand, my family is my heart. They are what makes me tick. My children bring joy to my life in unexplainable and unimaginable ways. My husband is the only constant in my life for the past two decades. He is my support system and my rock. My friends in my community are an extension of my family and make me feel connected in the world. Who would ever want to leave that behind?
It’s an amazing conundrum that challenges me on many fronts. I feel like I have to work that much harder to maintain all my relationships because sometimes I only have small chunks of time to work with to make my impact. I have to be very conscious about being present and not distracting myself with my work when I am spending time having lunch or coffee with a friend. I have to be much more deliberate about focusing when I am doing activities with my kids and husband because it is easy for me to pull out the phone, check my email or let my mind wander to the many details of my business. I need to release myself from the guilt I feel when I am away from kids, trusting that they will not be blogging 20 years from now to try to overcome the pain they endured by having a sometimes-absentee mom. It’s a lot to manage. But, in the end, I suppose this would be what they refer to as a “first world problem.” I am so fortunate to be able to get to run my own business, travel, luxuriate in collaboration and imagination. And, I am even more fortunate to have love everywhere I turn. I am blessed with children who, while growing by leaps and bounds every time I turn my back, give me the grounding I need to find my footing when I seem to be a little off balance.
I know I am not alone in this. I know, even in my intimate circle of friends, there are many of us who struggle in a similar way. Nonetheless, sometimes it feels really lonely and isolating and sometimes getting lost in my thoughts about this takes me away from some pretty important stuff – like remembering to blog…