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Thursday, November 30, 2017

My choice

Happiness.  We read blogs about how to achieve it.  Shelves are lined with endless books on the steps to reaching such a state. Conversations are riddled with questions about ones state of mind. Essentially it is what each and every person desires.

This was something that I have not struggled with personally.  I looked at the fact that it was a choice, and mine was clear.  Then life got busy.  I found myself in the company of people who struggled with stress and unhappiness.  Although also feeling the stresses of life, I tried to look at the good stuff and focus on that.  Then something happened; I began to feel guilty about feeling good when my companions were feeling to low.  I started to share my unhappy feelings too.  It made me feel like we were bonding better.  Time went on and I continued.  Then came a day when I found myself literally feeling unhappy all of the time.  I was arguing with those closest to me over the most foolish of things. 

Basically I had transformed into a person that I was not even fond of - not a nice realization let me tell you.  I realized, being unhappy had become my new habit.  My happy friends had been replaced by my stressed and dissatisfied circle.

So yeah starting today I am done with endless time talking about how stressed we all are, or how horrible things may or may not be... I am done with the inward focus. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Running no longer

Transformational.  A cheesy word, but the only one that comes to mind appropriate enough to describe the past couple of years.
One of the challenges with being a single and independent female is that we know we cannot rely on anyone.  We fiercely defend our independence.  We hide our emotions.  At least that was what it was like for me.  I ferociously protected myself to assure that the life I fought hard to build would not crumble around me.
My lifestyle was fast.  Not in the "wall street" sense, but more in that I had no idle time.  Work, gym, friends.  My refrigerator contained a yogurt or two if I was lucky, my desk drawer a bag of nuts or something – eating simply did not fit into my routine.
I felt restless all the time.  Even in my sleep.  The couple of relationships I dallied in soon left me feeling bored and caged. 
But I was happy.  My life was full.  Friends a plenty.  A magnificent family.  A son who touched my life daily.  There however, was always that restless feeling.
On a trip to Zurich a few years ago my ever-wise son sat me down and told me it was time to slow down a bit.  Maybe try to get eight hours of sleep a night.  I listened and did give it a good try. 
The next thing that happened was I ended up in an executive assessment.  Ten hours of brutal testing.  Some parts I did well in, but one part I was weak.  At least per the panel assessing me.  They said I was "too cold". 
"Do you know how to have fun and relax?" they asked.  "Our panel cannot emotionally connect with you.  You are calm and controlled, but we want to also connect with you."  The all-male panel later shared that this was often a problem with career driven females.   
I mentioned this response to some of the friends I spent time with; "ridiculous" was their reply. I also shared the feedback with the man I was dating.  "Yes, I can see what they meant." 
Before I go on, I want to say that I don’t care much for status quo.  The need to please people is not something for which I strive.  But I do want to be the best version of myself; therefore, when I added up these things, I knew there much be something I could possibly do better.
After some time, I realized that I was so busy proving to no one in particular, that I was fine.  That I needed no one, that I could do it all.  I was ready to battle in a moment's notice.  This resulted in relationships filled with power struggles and me making sure he understood I didn’t need him.  No matter where I was, I took on more than everyone.   People complained about stress – not me.  Bring.  It.  On.  I was happy though.  Up for pretty much anything, and this made me popular amongst my friends.
I decided to start investing my energy in different way.  My guy got me into cooking.  Regular sleep routines.  Netflix series.  Mountain biking and mountain hikes.  I tried to let my guard down with people; sometimes successfully, often not.  I started to eat better.  My refrigerator is usually full.  I can even cry on occasion now, something that was for years completely allusive.  I no longer feel restless.  Finally.
These two years have been a challenge for me.  Modifying a long-standing behavior pattern is not easy.   But what I have learned in this process, was that the façade of absolute control and independence is a fragile one.  It takes constant awareness and an exhausting investment of energy.  It also leaves one feeling restless and searching for something to satisfy.