I was raised to be a doer. And do I did. Got nearly straight As throughout elementary, middle and high school. First became president of a club (“Club 56,” for fifth and sixth graders at the JCC) at age ten. Chose the “b’chavod” (with honors) track of the Bat Mitzvah program my synagogue offered. Captained the speech team (won a state championship), performed in theater and music productions, earned a spot in the math honors club, managed a $28k budget as Business Editor for my senior yearbook, on and on and on. Graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA (no rounding up). Applied to and graduated from top colleges and business schools. Had interesting internships and extra-curricular activities. Had a busy social life, with many new and long-time friends to keep up with. (My family moved to nine different states during my growing-up years.) Volunteered. Saw the world as a place that needed to be healed, and my role as doing everything possible to make a positive impact.
I did it all. Not because my family directly pressured me to, but perhaps in part because I had so many doers as genetic predecessors and role models. All the men in my family have been successful in business, and all the women as teachers. (With the exception of me – while I am just realizing that in some ways I am a teacher too, I have been the lone woman in business. Otherwise, this pattern holds true until today; we have yet to see what career paths the next generation – my young daughter, son, and niece – will choose).
And these people – my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. – didn’t “just” work. They were proactive parents too. They took great care of their homes. They actively participated as leaders in their local Jewish and civic communities. They were busy. Busy, busy, busy.
I was, and still am, proud of them. So I was busy too. Throughout my childhood, twenties and thirties, by many objective and subjective indicators, I seemed happy and successful. By my late thirties I owned a home, was married, and had 2 children. I was a trustee on my Temple board. I’d had a thriving coaching and consulting practice since my early thirties. I had been a “good girl” the whole time. Or so I thought.
I felt overwhelmed for the first time before I was even a teenager. I felt depressed for the first time when I was 17. I was busy round the clock. Even when I “rested” I multi-tasked; I played music, listened to NPR, or talked on the phone. I interacted constantly, never wanting to hear the sound of silence. Whenever there was more to do than I had time available, I slept less that night. I generated ideas feverishly, prioritized constantly and got it almost all done. I powered through until, usually around Christmastime, I would get sick for two weeks every year.
Besides the illness, I mostly liked it. I felt passionate about many of my classes, most of my work, and my relationships. I knew about healthy food, I exercised when I believed I had enough time, I went to therapy regularly and had good mentors. I grew emotionally and… physically. The one area of my life where I felt thoroughly unsuccessful was my weight. According to my first journal, the latest I began feeling ashamed of how I looked was the mere age of 10.
New Year’s Day 2008, at 40 years old, was a breakthrough moment for me. A close relative called, purportedly to wish me a happy new year, and lashed out at me, as she did regularly. And I suddenly knew, like I’d never known before, that I’d absolutely had enough. All my life I had been striving to be a good enough daughter, sister, cousin, friend, student, professional and community member. In recent years I’d added wife and mom to my list.
And now, at age 40, I was done getting myself there and ready to be there. Wherever I was. It was good enough. Physically and metaphorically, I was more than enough. The constant “trying” was over. I was ready to stop doing so damn much so that I could finally start being. It was time to accept myself as I was.
In that one moment, the culmination of one million earlier moments, I let go. Since then I have let go of more than I ever dreamed possible or beneficial. And I put taking care of myself back on my to do list. I let go of non-stop people-pleasing. I let go of my husband. I let go of a constant struggle to feel “a part of” and a deep, driving fear of being alone. I let go of the deep-seated, nagging suspicion that I had to do it all myself. I let go of relationships, personal and professional, that no longer served my highest good. I let go of my fear of silence. I let go of looking out for the other shoe to drop. I let go of my hyper-competent/hyper-busy/obligated persona. I let go of putting work above my family because I was afraid I would not be able to provide for them otherwise. I let go of sky-high expectations, of myself and others. I let go of volunteering. I let go of 60 pounds from my body. I felt lighter – illuminated from within and palpably less heavy. I had stopped stuffing my head, my body, and the daily agenda of my life.
Today I feel stronger than I ever have, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I am not perfect but I am good enough. I still have doubts but I don’t believe them all. I am deeply grateful for all that I have had, including the challenges.
Best-case scenario, I am in the middle of my lifetime, and I want to enjoy as many of the remaining minutes as possible.
Now I am ready to consider what of all this I want to keep. I am at the beginning of the third evolution of connect2 Corporation and I feel good about my commitment to growth. I am ready to re-imagine what I want to include in my precious life – what behaviors, people, capabilities, environments, practices, pursuits, values, fun, technologies, travels, areas of expertise, and impact I want to have going forward.
I finally understand that an abundant, gentle Spirit is with me always. That the Flow is mine to tap into. That to tap in, I need quiet. And quality sleep. And unconditional love.
I started the visioning process by gathering, synthesizing, and synopsizing my self-assessments and business plans. I realized I always valued going first on a path. And that all my history has been staging for me to be a pioneer in my own right.
While I am still articulating, I know I am here to celebrate abundance by courageously exemplifying present motherhood alongside financial wealth. By simply being my full self, I will make a positive impact.
For months I’ve been having a recurring dream that, at the end of a week-long cruise, I realized I forgot to go down the big waterslide on the ship. In my waking life, I aim to tap into my own Water Slide Experience: having a blast going simultaneously forward and deeper, all the while knowing my landing will be safe.
No more busy, busy, busy. Now I will be, be, be.