Life is a balancing act. Don’t believe it.
I believe what Josi from The American Momma blog wrote in her post The Trip That Changed My Mind. Josi talks about her recent attendance at Bloggy Bootcamp in Atlanta. and how life-changing it was. (I attended Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte NC last year and it was life-changing.) In her blog post Josi recalled the words of Tiffany Romero who said, “Time with your kids is flying by” and the words of Danielle Smith “balance is bunk, it’s all about juggling.” This is so true and sadly most of us realize it too late.
My dream was always to travel and write, but I was seduced by a high-power corporate career and took that path instead. Children were never on my radar, until they were BIG TIME and I was torn between career and family. But I was a feminist and had swallowed hook, line and sinker that women can now “have it all”.
So I tried. And I did for a while. But somehow having it all turned to doing it all. I made the meals, I grocery shopped, I was a room parent, I dropped off and picked up the kids from daycare and worried constantly how they were doing. I did this all while I was in the top 100 financial advisers out of over 6000 brokers in my Fortune 50 company. Oh boy, I had it all. Oh yes, I had a husband, but weren’t we taught that as women could do everything?
I read all about work-life balance and I tried my best. And it seemed to work… for everyone else. I would balance corporate mom with stay at home mom by doing all the laundry, errands, shopping and cooking. I would balance my work time with being a room parent. I would balance my vacation time with playing with my kids on the beach when I really just wanted to take a nap, read a book or have a few minutes to myself. I was trying to balance my life with me as a mom and me as a career woman, but the me as a person wasn’t in the equation.
I was mentally and physically exhausted and my health declined. I easily became pregnant with my son at age thirty-three, but two years later I had a miscarriage and my fertility went right out the window. At age thirty-seven, I was losing a battle with fertility treatments and finally threw in the towel and we adopted our daughter in 2001.
Time did fly by. All the beautiful pictures and videos I had of my babies? I couldn’t watch them. They left me sobbing, aching for the time I missed and was continuing to miss. Feminism told me I could do whatever I wanted; I could be whoever I wanted. I could rule corporations and companies. Just get in there, work hard. Lean In. The top of the corporate ladder is where you want to be.
But they never told me what to do if I changed my mind. If I wanted to spend more time with my kids, I was someone who was not serious about her career. I needed to be someone who was serious about her career, right? So I stressed, and I cried and I hated myself for not having the guts to do what my heart wanted to do.
Until one day I did. One day I said no more. I always told my clients to live their life. Enjoy life. I decided to take my own advice. My husband and I dropped out of the corporate rat-race. It freaked everyone out.
We sold our house, we gave away our “stuff” physically and literally, bought a sailboat and took our kids on adventure. Co-workers didn’t truly believe it until my last day at work. My own mother gave me 30 days before I would come back. But we didn’t come back for over 4 years. We crossed oceans, climbed volcanoes, explored jungles and reconnected to each other. It was an incredible healing experience for me and my family.
When we came back, we were determined to hold on to what we found and implement the lessons we learned. The most important lesson is that if you don’t make taking care of yourself a priority, it’s hard to take care of anyone else. You know the sign on the airplane that says, “remember to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others”? I used to think that was crazy. Of course I would put the mask on my child first. But they are absolutely correct. You have to take care of yourself first before you help others. You have to be part of the equation.
So now my juggle consists of things I love… writing, traveling, family and helping others find the fun in their life. Helping them to find the “no”. I picked up a good mantra from Tiffany Romero at the Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte… don’t say yes unless it’s a hell yes. I’m going to embroider it on a pillow! Here’s to more “hell yes” in your life.