“You’ve gotta find the will to keep going, because I promise you, someone else will” – Rachel Hollis
No, I haven’t read “Girl Wash Your Face” yet (although the title is perfection). But I’ve read enough of Rachel’s posts and listened to her podcasts that I get the gist, and she’s a total girl boss with some healthy motivation. I haven’t written to anyone but myself in a while and I’ve barely posted anything anywhere because I’ve been “too busy”. But if I’m being totally honest, this past year has been more than that. I’m about to turn 31, it’s the first day of October, there’s 90 days left in this year, and I feel like in order to turn another page, I need to get my last year onto this page of the internet I’ve claimed. This post is for myself, but also for those that feel like they’re often not doing enough.
Yesterday morning I drug myself out of bed and to the airport with four bags. One was so big I could have fit in it. It weighed 81 pounds according to Southwest’s unimpressed baggage clerks. I could barely get it all into the airport. It’s all for work. I’ve worked the past two weekends, and over the last two weeks I’ve had some slight panic attacks, I’ve picked fights with my husband, I’ve cried (exhausted) on the bus, in the car, and as I unlocked my front door too many times than I’d like to admit. Mostly because I felt so busy that I felt like I wasn’t ever doing enough. Which on the outside makes zero sense. Compared to some, I’m not even very busy. Being in a “funk” is too generic to describe it, and I know everyone has those weeks where work gets the best of them, and these past few have certainly been mine. But it’s been a year. A really, really good year. But if I’m being totally honest, it’s also been a bit of a hard year. I know I have so, so, so much to be grateful for. And I don’t write this to throw my own pity party for myself. (Or maybe I am?) Okay, so here’s my pity party. Ever since I can remember I’ve been a writer. Putting words on paper helps me. Feeling the click of the keyboard when I’m in a writing flow is cathartic to me. I’m lucky I was born on the cusp of the internet days because thank heavens I didn’t have the capacity to start a blog as a teenager.
Anyway, it’s been a year since I’ve been in Chicago and man, it feels good to be back in the Midwest. Here I sit, in my hotel bed with the L train running next to my room, the sounds of the city waking up for their Monday. I honestly forgot it was Monday this morning when my alarm went off. I had a super restless night filled with nightmares that consisted of being lost, time travel, a masked man trying to kill me and that’s just what I can remember. Again, it’s been a year. I have 48 more hours to get through the biggest challenge of my career to date and then I can relax. That’s what I keep telling myself. But that, my friends, is a real shit way to live. And I started writing this with a quote by Rachel Hollis because she recently lit a small fire under my derriere (I just spent two minutes googling how to spell dare-ree-air, that was a hard one). And not in the “self-help, it’s almost the holidays, get moving, eat more kale, ya ya ya ya – way” that most people will take out of her “The last 90 days challenge” (which is genius and I like it, and yes I should be getting moving and eating my organic kale I’m growing in my small backyard Seattle garden). But more in the I’ve-gotta-do-something-about-this-made-for-more-feeling-that’s-eating-a-hole-in-my-chest type of way. I like my job. I’m surrounded by super smart people. I’ve learned more in the last two years than I did in two years of graduate school, that’s for sure. I’m super lucky to be in this position. But last year when I landed in Chicago to produce this same event, I was filled with this feeling of magic, of being alive and happy and excitement for what was to come. I was tired, yes, but not tired like I am today. Since that week for the last 365 days, I feel like I have not slowed down. I rocketed off on this year long journey of rarely stopping for calm except for an hour or two of yoga. Sure, I’ve had some lazy Sundays on the couch. But I kept saying last summer, “I’ll dive into wedding planning when this event’s over”. And I did. October 1st, 2017 came and went successfully, I went home and went headfirst into all things wedding. And I felt behind the entire time. Like this huge project was looming over my head and I wasn’t going to get in done in time or well. And I never slowed down to enjoy it because I felt so behind. Who exactly was holding that deadline over my head? It certainly wasn’t Jake or my mother. Me. I was.
After this event last year, Jake met me in Chicago and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even fully enjoy the first 24 hours he was here. We were celebrating our birthdays that were coming up the next week and I was still “in my 20s”. I turned 30 shortly after we got home to Seattle and I feel like an internal shift happened inside of me. Like I took all the serious parts of my personality and put them at the forefront of myself. Like somehow 30 made me more of an adult so I better start acting like one. Toss fun out the window, adults don’t have fun. They’re serious and demanding and get shit done. They meet deadlines. They exceed goals. They stay on track, on budget, and online because adults don’t miss important emails. They expect the same out of everyone they come into contact with and they better not have fun either, because life is serious. We’re working here.
The thing was, I saw myself doing this and at first I was proud: Look at those figures. I got an award at work. I’m in the best shape of my life. I don’t eat dairy or carbs. I’m crushing it. I thought because I never slowed down that my word for the year, “harmony” would just find me. And by the time our wedding rolled around in Hawaii, I was so stressed with trying to make every moment perfect at all times and exhausted from not allowing myself to rest, that on my wedding night I probably should have been admitted for exhaustion. You hear celebrities canceling appearances for that type of thing and I, at least, roll my eyes. How stupid, I’ve always thought, they don’t know what working hard is.
But my problem is my “working hard” never makes me feel like I’ve created anything good, because when the job is done, I’ve burned each end of the candle so quickly the whole damn thing goes up in smoke and I crash and can’t enjoy it. Jake kept telling me to slow down and enjoy it in Hawaii. And I tried so hard to take his advice. I finally did the night before and literally had the time of my life. But I probably owe an apology to those around me that had to deal with me the few days before as my bridezilla mounted. In the end, we were so overwhelmed with the help and support of our friends in Hawaii who stepped in and helped make it over-the-top magical and more beautiful than that 1970s rental house had ever been in its entire life. I feel like I can’t thank them enough. But I’ve also been carrying around guilt that I should have done all of it because then they wouldn’t have had to do it. Like being 30 is some high standard I need to hold myself to and never make mistakes or take help from people, and when I do, well, button down the hatches because I’ll be sure to make myself feel worse about it than anyone else ever could.
When we got back from our honeymoon – where yes, I was able to relax for the most part and it was so amazing – these realizations hit me even harder. Probably because this huge event we’d looked forward to for almost a year was over and it was such a dream it went by so fast. But it was hard for me to stop thinking that maybe I’d ruined it for everyone in Hawaii because I didn’t plan well enough, that I didn’t stop to enjoy it so I put stress on everyone else, that I didn’t take enough photos or hire the right vendors or spend enough time with all the family and friends that flew all the way there to see us. Jake tried to tell me no, but I didn’t listen to him. I just wanted to go back and do it all over again. Stubborn perfectionism at is ugliest. You know what those thoughts get you? Nothing. They buy nothing, but they will steal the thunder from what we did accomplish: having a beautiful, love-filled wedding of our dreams.
From our honeymoon I flew to my small hometown to help my parents move out of our childhood home, that my parents built when I was two. That house is on the street named after my mom, right next door to her childhood home, where my grandparents lived my entire life. Packing up that life felt so final, like I was really putting to rest my childhood self and adult me was here to stay. I’m admittedly bad at change and place too much emphasis on sentimentalities, especially on physical objects, so leaving that house was very, very hard for me. It’s still hard to think about and I’m not proud at how difficult I took it. I even wrote an entire post about it but couldn’t bring myself to hit publish. Another thing I’ve been telling myself I should have done one thousand times better.
When I got home, worked picked up and I threw myself into being better there. I had some good work trips where I got to go see old friends and slow down a bit with them for a few days, which was awesome. But then in May I finally addressed my leg pain that had been bothering me since I did the splits in Vegas in November at my bachelorette party where my platform heel and the dance floor had other plans. Long story short, I tore three tendons and fractured my pelvis and had continued my normal activities and working out for the last six months. No wonder I’d been in so much pain. I was so focused on work and travel that I just kept thinking it would heal itself. But it didn’t. So I ended up having three experimental PRP injections, which included a week of bedrest, crutches, pretty excruciating pain at times, and pretty much zero workouts for months. Months! Of just limping along, scared to even step off of the bus without a handrail. I learned quickly that Seattle is not a very accessibility friendly city. I went from the best shape of my life to no shape. I’m currently in the I’m-winded-when-I-walk-uphill-to-the-bus-shape. Until I couldn’t lift weights or go on a run, I hadn’t realized how much exercise was helping me keep all of those feelings of the things I could be doing better at bay.
Being completely honest (because obviously this is a spill-all post), it was a really hard summer for me. I feel like I had no summer. I had the procedure on June first and Seattle had a cold, rainy June. It was pretty gloomy. I had a goal to do 30 hikes in year 30 and that was shot because I could no longer hike. I let myself slowly sink into wallowing and had a hard time seeing the good. I stopped caring about eating too healthy and I did the same thing I’d been doing over the last year, saying to myself, “I’ll do xyz once I get past this xyz.” But that never made me feel good. It only made me feel worse, actually, because then I’d compare myself to others getting things done and think how I wasn’t working hard enough. Then in August we moved, which added another element of work.
Out of all that “work”, what do I have to show for it? I have a successful career, we had an amazing dream wedding, an awesome honeymoon, my leg is healing, my family is in a good spot with a new house, we moved into a new house we love and I have an extremely patient and kind husband whom I adore and love dearly. I have so much that I’m extremely thankful for and really am trying to see the good in all areas of my life.
But since Chicago last year, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that there’s more and if I can just wrap up one last project, etc., that then I’ll be able to find that more. I even took an awesome 7 week course in July and August focusing on manifesting dreams. But I did the same thing, because I’m so “busy”, I told myself after I get this event done for work, I’ll focus more on me and my dreams. On being a better human, wife, taking care of myself more, etc. You know, when I have “time”. I used to hate glorifying busy. Who is this person?! Gross.
I walked into this hotel room last night with my two hundred pounds of luggage at The W in downtown Chicago, (who tries hard to be out of the hotel norms when it comes to decorating), and this quote is on my wall: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I’ve been trying to find myself in work, in planning events for others so that they enjoy it most, in feeling bad that I’m not “doing enough” and doing more and more, and then feeling so empty and tired that I’ll circle back to that feeling of being lost. But today it hit me – I’m not lost, there’s nothing to find, I’m just not creating the life I want. I’m creating my reality of running to workout, running to the bus, running to the office, (literally) running to grab lunch, running to catch the bus home, running home to clean the house, running to figure out dinner, running errands. So. Much. Running. To sum up an extremely long diatribe, I’m using Rachel Hollis’s “Last 90 days” challenge a little differently – I’m going to stop running! I don’t mean physically, because I was actually recently cleared for “light jogging” again and I’m stoked about it, but more in the I want to create my life, not run from it. That’s what this whole post is about. Should I be working right now? Probably. Does the fact that I worked until midnight and woke up at 6am to work make it okay? Who cares. Yes, there are things to do. I’m always going to “work hard” and there is a lot of pride to be had in that, but it shouldn’t be all I strive for anymore. I need to work hard at balance and being happy in that work, not just going and going until I can’t go anymore.
In an hour I’ll be hustling speakers on stage and mic’ing people and making sure catering has got it together. But I also needed a second to write a post. Because I wanted to. And as I round out this year of 30 and go into my favorite month of October, I’m not running from what I want anymore. I’m creating what I want and I’m taking my fun back. More fun, less busy. I’m an adult, that means I get to do what I want, right? Go ahead and judge me, but I’ll be damned if I look back from October 1st in 365 days and have to write about what a year it’s been with anymore of a negative slight. Grateful to be alive, grateful to have the ability to create more of a life I want, and grateful to have the guts to admit I haven’t been doing that 100% of the time, and know that it’s okay. Yesterday is not forever – sure it’s filled with thousands of things I would have done differently, and because I’m an overachiever type-A human, I have to work hard at choosing to leave them there. I’m coming for you soon, 31, and you’re going to be damn fun.