Sunday, August 25, 2013

Behind the Mask

I do not think it was a coincidence--finding these journal entries last week or that they never made it to my blog.  As I was cleaning out an old flash drive and reading this, I was taken back to a very painful place.  The entries are not complete and I don't know why, but they tell enough of the story to understand where change made its imprint. These days were right in the middle of one of the most vulnerable, frightening times of my life.  With a first born and the lowest economic time of my adult life, I was grasping for security.  This tells a lot about where I've really been. 

August 10, 2009

Insomnia: prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep.

11:30 p.m.-toddler falls out of bed; I wait to ensure he has her safely tucked in before trying to fall back asleep.  12:30 p.m. – still trying to fall asleep.  Brain not turning off, I begin making my list…my plan for the coming weeks.   Seems like once a month, ironically around the time I am ovulating (hormones), I hit the reset button and reorganize chaos in my life.  Make wish lists, plan, and dream.  Get myself back on track.  I think its god’s way of keeping me between the lines on the road I am traveling. 

Monday is really going to hurt tomorrow-today.  Might have to forego workout---or am I just saying this to give myself permission to be tired instead?  See, it’s this kind of compulsive behavior that has me awake right now. Must workout to maintain my figure, must cook, must clean, must be hands-on mommy (and love every minute of it), must have career, must be perfect wife... must figure out how to have more balance.  It’s not working.  I won’t figure it out right away.

I can at least count on once a month to have a couple uninterrupted hours in the middle of the night where I don’t feel pressure to be doing anything else- who needs me at 2 a.m.?  On a quest to be doing what I love-that’s my mission- that’s what I want.  To do something bringing unity and meaning to my life, not division- stop the revolving door.  Is there such a place?  A place where you aren’t trying to live multiple lives?  Somewhere you can live within all your roles, at the same time, and find contentment?  Hmmm.

Start doing things without the end in mind.  I’ll go to bed with this final thought.  Off to a good start-it’s 3 a.m. and I’m still awake, today already looks different than I had planned. 

32 years old and still getting acquainted with myself.  I’m the epitome of a generation x’er.  I come from a generation who with a purpose and a plan can justify the need to accomplish anything-at any cost.  Ah, the pressure of an over achiever-how much and how fast?  How did we get here?

Last night I had a vision of a flight attendant.  “If there is a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the cabin above you….”  Our responsibility is always to save ourselves first, right?  Put our own mask on first, AND THEN help the person next to us?  I should take this advice.
Purpose:  Find balance and contentment.  Find ME. Plan: Write it out and wait.   

If I were to find my life in a want ad on Craig’s list, it might look something like this:
Perfect life, looking for a grateful owner:  Blonde, fit, confident, self-motivated young woman.  9 years of wedded bliss to a handsome overachiever, young AND successful.  One adorable little girl (red head), happy and healthy.   Business owners (of not one, but three successful business ventures), living on gorgeous estate on five acres, loving family-totally normal.  What more could one ask for?  Ungrateful?  No.  I could feel wonderful—if I can come out from under the weight of all the pressure.

2009-a life changing year for my generation-our Great Depression.  Could this year change the lives of those of us who know nothing different than life in excess and over consumption?  The year we actually learn to live below our means-or, within our means at best, changing us forever?   The year the bottom fell out?  For me, 2009 is the year I finally felt the ground beneath my feet.

What if I’d known then what I know now?  Would it have hurt me?
There are always some who watch in awe; in speculation when you do something they could never imagine doing themselves.  It’s human nature.  You have some who are in support and encourage, almost live vicariously and await your success so they can take part in witnessing greatness.  Then, there are the others.  Those who watch in envy, wishing they were capable of taking such risk.  They are waiting and anticipating failure, in order to validate why they didn’t take the risk themselves when they were your age.  And then our own accomplice, the voice we create—that which brings the fear of failure.

When we decided to buy a business, it was like experiencing every emotion and “what if” life could allow.  It was intoxicating.  I think we had different reactions to the possibilities.  He was motivated by the challenge with the belief we had nothing to lose.  The skeptic in me believed we would undergo complete change, including loss.  With my excitement for the possibility of how much we would gain, I also had an equal fear of where this opportunity would take away.  I was immediately determined to protect “us”.  Damage control.  

September 21, 2009
When the light becomes shadowed by fear.
Imagine you are outside, enjoying the energy of the hot sun—clear blue sky, the sun beating down on you.  You melt into a comfortable chair and allow your eyes to barely open.  It’s too bright; your eyes can hardly take it.  You are paralyzed and exhilarated, all at the same time.  You allow your eyes to close; you can no longer keep them open. 

You can’t recall the moment it happened but you fall out of the space where you were once secure in complete awareness, contentment and reassurance.   You go to open your eyes again and its pitch dark.  At first, you blink a few times—begin navigating through the foreign environment.  It takes time to even feel your feet on the ground.  It’s then you realize, you’ve lost perspective.  One of the most claustrophobic moments in time where you are aware you’ve become a passenger on the road you are traveling, you’ve lost your way. 

To go from credit card debt in college to a six-digit income—I was bound to get caught up somewhere.  I was drunk with the possibility of opportunity and success, inhibiting me from staying in touch with the passion and desires of my heart.  I’ve been living to work.  I will be forever grateful for this infamous economic crisis we currently live in, nothing like a crash to sober me up.

With each challenge, awaits new opportunity.  Once you adjust to the darkness and change your pace, there is an opportunity to see corners of life once overshadowed by intense forward motion.  Although I‘d love to take the credit, I didn’t choose to change lanes.  I’ve been graced by circumstance.   Where am I going with all this? 

From personal income to goals and dreams, life is different today than it was four years ago.  What has changed?  The economy has dictated most of the tangible adjustments while bringing a child into this world has changed the rest.  I still can’t recall which came first.  Can’t determine when I realized there were some tough choices I had to make.  When I realized my life no longer felt like my choice. You know, when the treadmill is moving so quickly you can’t get off? 

I have choices, and all of them have consequences.  Time to prioritize.  Could I take part in the best of both?  Can I be a doting mother of a child who will recall the positive impact I’ve made on her life when she’s faced with a tough decision at sixteen?-- AND a powerhouse business owner?  Do I have to choose, in order to slow down long enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor?  And, at what cost? 
Live with no regret and eliminate guilt… isn’t this the ultimate goal?  This is the dilemma for a young working mother today.  Intellectually I understand the many choices and opportunity life presents during the course of womanhood.  We have the chance to reinvent ourselves over the course of a lifetime, not in two years, not in ten.  We can embrace age and maternity as they make their imprint on us…season us.  However, the desire to do it all, at once, continues to nag.  It keeps us hungry on the quest to redefine ourselves as our experiences continue to define us.  We search for the need to feel important and valued, independent.  In control.  While in the meantime, our children suffer and our professional role weakens due to the inability to stay focused.  We create the one scenario we’ve worked a lifetime to avoid.

Why is it so difficult for us to tread water, to be content with status quo?  To find light in where we are, not where we are headed?  Maybe this is the real quest we are on.